Downtown Monthly Parking Is Up

    GRAND RAPIDS — The downtown economy appears to have gained a little bit of steam over the past nine months. At least, that is what one indicator is showing.

    At the end of last month, there were 1,296 monthly parking cards available at the 18 city-owned ramps and lots.

    At the first of this year, there were 1,452 monthly parking cards available in the city’s downtown parking system.

    The difference between January and September means that the city has sold 156 monthly parking cards so far this calendar year, a gain of nearly 11 percent over those nine months.

    Acting Parking Services Director Pam Ritsema said the rise largely came about because students at Grand Rapids Community College bought lower-priced monthly parking cards for the DASH lots.

    “The cheap seats, if you will, are filling up,” said Kevin Denhof, a parking commissioner and head of security at the Van Andel Institute, of the monthly spaces that cost from $20 to $30 including the shuttle rides.

    Ritsema said the DASH service has been very effective in the Michigan Street Hill area, where the GRCC campus is located. She also noted that the state would let her know soon how many of its workers would be coming downtown and how many monthly spaces would be needed to accommodate the first wave of employees that will move into the former City Centre shopping mall.

    So Parking Services should sell more monthly cards to state workers within a few weeks. The Ottawa Fulton and City Centre ramps have the most spaces available.

    But Ritsema added that the losses in monthly parkers her department has suffered for the past few years have mostly come from the professional services sector, such as law firms and advertising agencies.

    Despite the gain this year, the number of downtown monthly parkers remains down from a peak in January 1999 when only 646 cards were available.           

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