I’ve lived off of South Boulevard for four years now, right on the dividing line between Dilworth and South End.
With apartment buildings rising up and down South Boulevard, and new restaurants opening, parking has gotten insane around here.
Some people are saying we’re using too much land on parking lots and decks. Perhaps. But I also think it would be insane to build apartments without parking decks — at least for now.
Why? The residential streets are narrow and people parallel park along both sides of them, with barely enough room for one car to drive between.
It’s safe to assume these people parking are restaurant guests, neighborhood visitors or apartment residents who don’t have enough designated spaces, since it’s not uncommon to have one parking space per one apartment — leaving a significant other or roommate to find on-street parking.
Which is probably why my parked car has been hit twice. And which is why I often can’t find space to park in front of my own townhome, and am immensely grateful to have a parking lot.
Some of the worst streets on my Dilworth side are McDonald Avenue, with Chipotle and townhomes, and Tremont Avenue, with new townhomes and the new Dilworth Tasting Room.
It’s worse in South End, where the apartments are really booming and there is hardly any room for on-street parking, like at The Fountains, the Ashton and Camden Southline.
The point is, parking is getting messy in Dilworth and South End. And I do respect the critics who “say Charlotte hasn’t done enough to encourage developers to stop building massive parking decks along the Blue Line,” that developers can experiment with building less parking and that we’re allowing a lot of land “to be spent storing cars.”
But I have to agree with developer Jeff Harris, who told the Observer: “One day, car-sharing services and Uber may make this unnecessary, but not quite today. We’re moving in that direction, but I don’t think it’s as rapid as people may have hoped or expected.”
I believe in going green when we can. I walk or bike three miles to work each day. I sometimes ride the light rail (when the kiosks are working). But without my car it would cost me $20 round trip to Uber to teach a yoga class and it would cost me $40 round trip to visit my parents in south Charlotte. Or it would force me to spend time waiting at secluded bus stops late at night to support public transit (no thanks), or biking for over an hour when I don’t always have the time.
Right now is not the right time to try to convince people to stop bringing cars into this city, unless they plan on living life in a bubble along the limited Blue Line.
Note that I’m simply saying “right now.” I’m not a development or sustainability expert. I’m just a resident who already sees the ill effects of too many cars and not enough parking.
Maybe one day the Charlotte Area Transit System’s $6 billion plan to build more light rail will change that. Maybe we’ll see a rise in protected bike lanes (and not just temporary protected bike lanes like we’ve seen in Plaza Midwood).
For now, according to Benjamin Collins of Crescent Communities, there’s still as much demand for cars along the Blue Line as in other areas of the city. Dilworth and South End included.
We still need more parking spaces. And, for the most part, we still need our cars.
Photo: Mark Hames/Charlotte Observer