Saturday, September 10, 2016

Parking...A core problem for proposed Davidson Hotel

When the application for the proposed new Hyatt Place  on Griffith St next to CSD landed on the town website, one of the first things that jumped off the page was the number of parking spaces "provided".  That number would be 118.

One thing about developments and parking is that parking isn't so much "provided"  as it's "required".  Municipalities tend to have requirements built into their planning ordinances.  Often there are specific requirements for specific uses such as hotels.  What's interesting is that after spending years rewriting its own planning ordinance, Davidson's doesn't mention anything specific about hotels.

According to a discussion had with Davidson Planning Director Jason Burdette at Tuesday's Transportation Plan Open House at Town Hall, the standard commercial requirements would have to make do for a hotel.

Those requirements state a minimum of 2 spaces per 1000 sq ft of development up to 3.5 spaces per 1000 sq ft.

At those rates, 118 spaces implies a hotel between 34,000 and 59,000 square feet.  Another way to estimate the size of the hotel is using the info on the Hyatt Place development guidelines website.  Starting with 115 rooms (a number provided to the town in August) and applying the guidelines gets a hotel a little over 50,000 square feet.

The real question is this.  Does only 118 spaces provide enough parking for a hotel with 115 rooms, nearly 1800 square feet of meeting space and a full service rooftop restaurant and outdoor dining space?

The simple answer is very likely not.  The situation is made worse when one considers the 118 spots includes 19 spaces of street parking according to the preliminary project diagram.

According to multiple articles and looking at different planning ordinances that do address hotels, the best way to estimate parking needs is to look at each use for the hotel separately while  factoring in different things like distance to the airport, is the restaurant open to the public, and how many staff are needed.

In the absence of the town having its own detailed requirements, aShortChronicle pulled together the below model for the parking needs for 115 guestrooms, 1800 square feet of meeting space, and a 140 seat full service restaurant with outdoor seating.  Maxing out all those uses for parking to achieve a "peak" parking need and then taking 80%, 60%, and 40% of those peak uses allows one to mix and match numbers for different scenarios.

The assumptions in the above chart make an honest attempt to not double count the need for parking between uses.  For example restaurants often have 1 parking spot for 3 seats and 1 parking spot for every two bar seats.  This model used 1 parking space every 4 seats and did not separate out for bar seating to accommodate for the fact that some restaurant patrons will also be hotel guests whose parking need is counted under for hotel category.  The model also minimized the need for hotel and restaurant staff parking by assuming 1/3 of staff will walk or carpool.  If these assumptions are wrong then parking needed is more likely to go up, not down.  Additionally, staffing numbers for hotel and restaurant may me low.

So, what are some obvious scenarios.

The Wedding:  It is easy to see a wedding or similarly sized event maxing out all uses.  That would mean the hotel is a full 91 spaces short of its needs. 209 - 118 = 91. This assumes this occurs when school next door is not in session and all on street parking is available.

The Daytime Business Forum: While peak parking need for this hotel will likely be in the evening for hotel and restaurant uses, any full use of the meeting space during the day will conflict with the peak parking need of the Community School of Davidson next to this site - meaning the street parking will be in use.  Taking the other uses at the hotel at 40% and adding the peak use for meeting space yields a hotel parking need of 136.  In a worst case, none of the street parking is available because of school use.  Meaning a total hotel deficit of 136 - 118 + 19 = 37.

The 60% Capacity Use Case:  Maybe the most concerning is the "average" use of all aspects at the same time.  It seems reasonable that could occur regularly.  If 10 on street parking spaces are in use already, then the hotel would have a 20 space deficit.  128 - 118 + 10 = 20.  It should be noted that any existing and new on street parking will be heavily used during the day by the existing school as the current parking capacity on the hotel site becomes unavailable.

Mix and match the numbers for your own scenarios.  There are likely more that will cause issues.  Pick apart the assumptions as well.

If this concerns you, contact the Davidson Board to encourage them to address this issue before they even consider approving this site for hotel use.

Reach the Board at

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