Parking Madness 2018 Championship: Hicksville vs. Lansing

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This is it, the final match of the Parking Madness 2018 tournament. The winner will be bestowed with the Golden Crater, eternal shame, and, hopefully, a kick in the pants to fix its sad, sad parking crater.

Separating themselves from this year’s pack of 16 parking-ravaged urban spaces are Hicksville, New York, and Lansing, Michigan.

It’s a contest between two classic parking crater types: the wasted potential of a park-and-ride rail station, in Hicksville, versus the state capitol complex in downtown Lansing, where parking perks have turned what should be a civic landmark into a glorified office park.

Hicksville

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When you step off a train at the Long Island Railroad station in Hicksville, it’s not easy to walk anywhere without first traversing a parking lot.

Only about 13 percent of the 100 acres surrounding this station is occupied by buildings, according to Ryan Coyne, a member of the planning committee for Hicksville’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative. What buildings do exist are mainly single family housing and suburban-style retail with tons of car storage. It’s not the walkable environment that a regional rail station should anchor.

The good news is that the station area is slated for some improvements — a redesigned station, pedestrian upgrades on surface streets, and hundreds of new apartments in development within walking distance of the train, according to Coyne.

Lansing

lansing_crater

Take in the area around the Michigan state capitol in downtown Lansing and try to feel something other than despair.

Notice how empty the lots are even in broad daylight. Presumably this Google satellite shot was taken on a weekend, when the state workers don’t drive in and no one else has a reason to be here.

In that respect, Lansing is like a lot of Midwestern downtowns. People drive in for work and drive out at the end of the day. And they leave behind a ghost town.

Not only do these parking lots suck the life out of Lansing, they’re also a drain on the city’s fiscal resources and its ability to fund public services, because while these parking lots for state employees may be occupying prime real estate, none are producing any tax revenue.

Voting will be open until Thursday at midnight eastern time, and we’ll present the award to the champion on Friday. May the worst crater win!

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  • Justin Carinci

    Sheesh. This is our capital, and our Capitol! A place where tourists come and walk around!

  • AstoriaBlowin

    So sad that that is what the downtown of any city looks like WRT Lansing, used to be pretty dense, even after the start of the automobile age.

    1957
    https://goo.gl/images/5gnDHc

  • Brandon

    The photo you shared is of the east side of the capitol where the main ‘downtown’ is. The parking crater is the west side of the capitol.

  • Brandon

    Just to clarify that isn’t really Lansing’s downtown (at least not all of it). The downtown is on the other side of the capitol along Washington Avenue.

    That doesn’t excuse the parking crater but its good to understand what we are looking at.

  • Flatlander

    Generally willing to cut Michigan some slack because transformative land use change is much harder to achieve without growth pressure, and Lansing has been losing population for decades. But Long Island really has no excuse.

  • nickhelmholdt

    Years ago I worked for the State of Michigan in this parking crater. (More specifically, my office was in the Ottawa Building at the corner of Pine and W. Ottawa). Let me illuminate the experience of working in this area as things were in about 2006.

    I was told that I could pay for parking in a surface lot or underground garage (yes, several of these buildings have structured parking!) which would be deducted from my pay, or I could park free on the street in the neighborhoods to the north. Being a cheapskate, I decided to ride my bike to work and park my car in the neighborhoods when weather made my ride unpleasant. Alas, the State of Michigan did not provide bike racks so I locked my bike to a handrail on the north west corner of the building.

    It would take a lot more than simply redeveloping underutilized asphalt to make this portion of Lansing an attractive investment. Many of the State’s office buildings in this area have terrible street frontages. My colleagues joked that the architectural style of our building was “neo-penal”. Large portions of the office complex are grade separated from the street. (You never have to cross a street at grade along the half-mile path between the Hall of Justice and the State Capitol.) Coincidentally, one of the buildings built to minimize its interaction with the city is for the Michigan Department of Transportation.

    Brandon is accurate when he points out that Lansing’s downtown is to the east of the capitol. The city also has some great neighborhoods (like Old Town) and corridors (like Michigan Ave. & Kalamazoo Ave.) Realistically, these nodes of activity are more promising investments for redevelopment in the city than this vast asphalt parking crater.

    Still, my vote is going to Lansing for this round. The sheer excess of these parking lots is inexcusable. The fact that Michigan taxpayers continue to maintain an enormous amount of surface parking in the shadow of its capitol dome is an embarrassment.

  • stuckup1

    A place where tourists COULD come and walk around, IF there was something to draw them. We had a child get married there last summer–out-of-town guests could not find much in the way of dining after 8 pm, other than local 24-hour greasy spoons and Mickey D’s. Sidewalks are rolled up promptly at 5 pm, 7 days a week–that’s why they need so much parking.

  • Stewart Clamen

    I hadn’t noticed that promenade between the Capitol and the Hall of Justice in previous rounds. Google Maps let’s you “walk” it (*) and except for those parking lots as you approach the Hall of Justice, it’s not *that* terrible (leaving aside the architectural elements of the buildings and the cold nature of it all).

    (*) https://goo.gl/maps/k5si7pTutuG2

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