Parking Madness 2018: Houston vs. Jacksonville
Your NCAA bracket may be busted but we’ve got a fresh new Sweet 16 for you here at Parking Madness, Streetsblog’s annual tournament to name and shame the worst parking craters in America.
In the sixth year of this competition, there’s still no shortage of entries terrible enough to make the cut. We narrowed down to this field of 16 parking abominations from a batch of reader submissions that proved once again the supply of parking-scarred American cities is truly bottomless.
There are no second chances in Parking Madness — once a crater competes in the tourney, it can’t come back for another run at the title. But some cities have more than one parking atrocity, and to kick things off, we have two towns that have competed before. Houston and Jacksonville give us a classic match-up between a stadium parking bomb and a nasty urban redevelopment project.
Stadium parking craters have a long and storied tradition in this tournament, and Houston’s is one of the biggest. The sports venue and convention center cluster known as NRG Park (formerly Reliant Park) is 305 acres large, and most of that land is consumed by parking.
Like other forms of urban parking blight, sports stadium complexes are often subsidized to a scandalous degree. It’s hard to believe how much public money goes toward creating huge dead zones that generate large volumes of traffic on the rare occasion they’re in use. Houston has a lot of urgent rebuilding needs following Hurricane Harvey, and the powers that be think car storage is one of them: Harris County just approved $105 million to refurbish the Astrodome (where the Astros haven’t played in years), including … a 1,400-space garage.
This is what remains of the LaVilla neighborhood in Jacksonville, just west of downtown. Much of the area was razed in the 1990s, our anonymous submitter informs us, in a failed redevelopment scheme:
The proverbial phoenix has not risen from the ashes more than 20 years later and contains parking lots, empty fields (used as parking) and suburban style development within the city’s grid.
Some of these parking lots serve stations for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s “Skyway Express” — an automated monorail that, in the words of our nominator, moves people “from nowhere to… well, kinda nowhere.”
Vote below to decide which parking crater advances to round two.