Since being relocated to another parking level within the Monroe Center deck, residents of City View Condos have expressed disdain at being relocated to what they believe is less than premium parking.
The Business Journal previously reported residents of City View Condos had until Aug. 1 to relocate their vehicles from the ground floor Louis Street lot in the Monroe Center parking structure to one lot above, accessible via Ionia Avenue.
Although the condo association asserted it had arranged with the city to secure ground level parking for the life of the structure when it was built in 2004, the city claimed no such agreement exists.
The Business Journal also issued a Freedom of Information Act request to the City Attorney’s Office for said agreement and was denied on the grounds that no such document exists.
Michelle Gordon has been an owner and part-time resident at City View Condos for over four years. Although she said she was not under the impression that she had a guaranteed spot via the Louis Street entrance, she added she would not have bought the unit if she knew she had to park in the Ionia lot.
“I don’t have anything proving that’s my spot,” Gordon said. “Did I purchase it thinking that would be my spot as long as I own the condo? Yes, I did.”
As an agent with JH Realty in Ada, Gordon said it’s very difficult to sell condos downtown without attached parking, and most prospective residents would not tolerate the high cost of living downtown if parking were not guaranteed.
“This comes up in conversation every time we list a property in our building,” Gordon said. “Parking is essential to the value of our units. One realtor listed a property and was told by the city there is no parking for City View residents. Besides the frustration of all this, they are hurting the value of our properties.”
Gordon argued the city is doing a disservice to itself. By eliminating residents’ access to the “premium” parking via the Louis Street lot and devaluing the properties, it is consequentially devaluing property taxes, she said.
Gordon also said she feels less secure being parked on the upper level as opposed to previously being on the street level.
“I felt like I was with other homeowners, now I’m with every other person that comes in there,” she said. “It took away my security, my safety and the value of my condo.”
While owning a separate home in Cascade, Gordon usually came downtown for events. Having dedicated parking accessible via the Louis Street entrance for her meant bypassing the overflow generated by events at Van Andel Arena or 20 Monroe Live.
But now, having to relocate to the Ionia Avenue lot means having to wait in line just to park, she said.
“If you come in for events and you have to wait in a long line to get to your residence, that’s a problem,” Gordon said. “Ionia is blinking yellow, and the cross streets are blinking red and it’s bumper to bumper.”
Gordon added she has decided to put her condo up for sale, saying she doesn’t live downtown much anymore, and the recent hassle with parking has made downtown living even less attractive to her.
“I’m not getting any bites, but it’s listed,” she said.
Another City View resident, Luba Samrick, in a group email said she had found another driver parked in her assigned spot 13 days after she had relocated. After contacting parking services, she was told all they could do was issue the driver a ticket.
“It is very frustrating to pay premium rate, only to find out that you are not getting what you are paying for,” she said.
Samrick did not respond to further inquiries as of press time.
When asked about residents’ frustration over being relocated, Josh Naramore, Mobile GR and Parking Services director, said it was the first time he had ever heard anything from them.
“I’d heard we had one or two people that parked in their reserved space, and we issued the citation,” Naramore said. “If people have issues, they should contact me directly.”
Naramore said towing unauthorized vehicles from the Ionia lot would require a smaller vehicle that the city tends to reserve for disabled vehicles.
He also asserted the upper-level parking lot is just as secure as the ground floor level. Along with a heavy presence of city staff during events, all facilities come equipped with security cameras, and the Grand Rapids Police Department has full access to them.
“On the lower (Louis) street, anybody could walk in there, and we’ve had more issues with that,” he said.