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The Philadelphia Parking Authority's transformation of an urban asset

- Philadelphia. Pennsylvania, US
Existing PPA parking garage at Arch Street planned for renewal; photo credit: MGander

Mark Gander, a member of the Green Parking Council (GPC)'s Board of Directors and chair of its Advisory Committee, recently participated in an all-day Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) charrette on "Realizing Urban Potential: Achieving Sense of Place and Vitality on 8th Street."

Over 60 members of the community, 5th Ward, businesses, consultants, city staff, real estate entities and other stakeholders attended the exploration of PPA's project to revitalize its parking asset at 8th Street between Arch and Filbert Streets. This project includes repairing, modernizing, beautifying and developing sustainable strategies for a 60 year old, 6-story, 1,222-space parking garage and 30,000 square feet of retail spaces with streetscape along 8th Street and the contiguous section of Arch Street.

The garage is well-located; a short walk to the Independence Mall, Convention Center, The Gallery shopping complex, Chinatown, the Reading Terminal Market, and the SEPTA station at 8th Street/Market.

In addition to improving the structure, functionality and aesthetics of the existing parking garage, retail spaces and streetscape, the Authority's intent is to incorporate environmental and civic responsibility into the design and engineering solutions, with the goal of using the improvement strategies developed for this property as a model for its other facilities. Another goal of the project includes recognizing improvements and processes that will help restore economic vibrancy to this important gateway to Center City, Philadelphia.

The Authority's responsibilities grew beyond providing off-street parking when they established a Strategic Plan in 2004 which created a broader vision for the Authority's mission: to support the region's economic vitality by providing comprehensive parking management and transportation services through its partnership with the City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. As the elements of the plan evolve, the focus continues to be on making Philadelphia a more mobile city, improving quality of life and supporting economic development.

Philadelpia Parking Authority project

Existing PPA parking garage at the 8th Street underpass; photo credit: MGander

"The Philadelphia project is a tremendous example of the type of transformation that is occurring within the parking industry both locally and globally as municipalities utilize smart parking technology and green parking design to achieve low-carbon cities," says Gander who is a director at AECOM. "This drive towards low-carbon cities has caused parking to become increasingly understood as an "infrastructure" asset that could function as a strategic enabler for urban mobility, place-making, community renewal and economic development."

The evolution of the Authority's design process at the 8th Street garage will culminate in a preliminary set of recommendations in approximately 6 weeks.

The Green Parking Council is supportive of the overall project, and applauds the multi-disciplinary and integrated approach taken by the PPA team. The work complements several ongoing projects of the GPC, including the organization's Green Garage Certification guidelines, credentialing standards and stormwater management program which focuses heavily on Philadelphia's recent regulations and fostering win-win strategies with private parking garage and lot owners in the City.

About the Philadelphia Parking AuthorityPhiladelphia Parking Authority

The Philadelphia Parking Authority owns and/or operates approximately 8,837 spaces at nine facilities and neighborhood lots in City Center. The Authority provides residents, businesses and visitors to Philadelphia with off-street parking management, regulation of on-street parking, and management of the parking facilities at Philadelphia International Airport. In July 2004 the Authority's responsibilities grew to include the regulation of taxis and limousines operating in the city. The Authority plans to relocate its headquarters to 801 Market Street in the spring of 2013. The new location will provide additional spaces, as well as a direct connection to the Authority's garage at 8th and Filbert Streets

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