Parking Madness: Louisville vs. Troy

So far Streetsblog readers have voted on seven head-to-head matchups in our 2016 Parking Madness tournament. Soon we’ll be down to the Elite Eight of parking craters. (You can still vote in the Long Beach vs. Muncie poll, which we’re extending to account for the holiday weekend in California.) But first, there’s one more pair of asphalt horrors in the running to win the coveted Golden Crater.

Rounding out the competition are these parking craters in downtown Louisville and Troy, Michigan, outside Detroit.


Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 4.52.41 PM

Branden Klayko runs the local blog Broken Sidewalk and nominated this part of downtown Louisville. He writes:

While efforts to revive Downtown Louisville are making some progress filling in some major parking craters, just south of Broadway in an area known as SoBro, immediately south of Downtown, there’s more square feet of asphalt than people. You can see in the upper left corner, the castle looking building is Louisville’s old train station and now the headquarters of TARC, the city’s transit agency. And it’s completely surrounded by parking lots. SoBro connects Downtown with the leafy neighborhood of Old Louisville, with few parking lots and many Victorian mansions, but it serves as a sort of pedestrian/ cyclist no-man’s land that creates a flat wall of sorts between the two areas. SoBro is home to a couple of colleges and Louisville’s Main Branch public library, but here you’d never guess people existed at all.



An anonymous reader who grew up in Troy, Michigan, submitted this parking lot, arguing that its sheer size should make it a contender:

From my childhood, the Oakland Mall, located at 14 Mile and John R, in the Detroit, MI, suburb of Troy. The entire area is outlined in yellow, and the uses are outlined in red. The total area is just over 103 acres, of which the mall and a few other ancillary uses add up to just under 28 acres. That means that there are about 2.7 acres of parking spaces and their access for every acre of actual use. To give a sense of the scale of this parking area, its perimeter is nearly 1-3/4 miles around — which would take over a half hour to walk!

Vote for your choice, and we’ll see you in Round 2.

Which city has the worst parking crater?

  • Louisville (74%, 143 Votes)
  • Troy (26%, 49 Votes)

Total Voters: 192


10 thoughts on Parking Madness: Louisville vs. Troy

  1. Broadway must have looked quite different when the train station was a hub, and the Feds built their Social Security Admin building across the street…

    So I was curious and googled it. TARC stands for “Transit Authority of River City”. Can we lament the lack of access to said river? Looks like an interstate right-of-way…

  2. Sure, that lot in Tory is massive. But it’s a suburban shopping mall. Not shocking to see all of that asphalt there.

    Louisville, on the other hand…well that’s just way too much surface parking so close to the CBD.

  3. This is bizarre, with repeated matchups this year placing decimated downtowns vs suburban shopping centers. Guys, malls have parking lots. Where rents are low and land is cheap, they are always surface parking lots. The parking ratios are per local zoning (typically 1 per 4,000 SF for customers). The bigger the mall, the bigger the lot. We can shed tears over the fact that this is what retail development meant for several decades, but it’s hardly the same as the hollowing-out of once-functional walkable neighborhoods for parking. Besides, when was the last conventional mall built in the US, 2006? Newer “lifestyle centers” have similar parking ratios but tend to do a better job of integrating the cars using their faux main streets and structured parking (which their higher rents generally can afford).

    Please, ban vanilla suburban shopping malls from future editions of Parking Madness. If you really want to pick on the suburbs, go for office development, like this gem from Troy:

  4. Gotta go with Louisville, if only for the enormous squandering of potential. Between the local universities, river access, and decent tourism industry (Bourbon Trail, etc.), Louisville could be a really cool mid-sized urban area along the lines of Asheville. (Which probably has its own parking craters, but mostly I’ve heard good things.)

  5. I agree this is a bizarre set of matchups. A parking crater by definition cannot be a greenfield development in an auto-oriented location. It has to be in a transit-accessible or formerly-transit-rich urban area.

    Maybe we have identified all the urban parking craters there are? Ha!

  6. Even without transit suburban office centers could have included restaurants and retail withing walking distance without requiring crossing major roads. And various offices and retail could share a common parking structure instead of numerous separate lots. Troy is a good example of poor planning as is Novi. Consider that if you work in any of the offices or stay in the hotel there its virtually impossible to walk to a restaurant.

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