Written by Betsy Abraham Saturday, 01 February 2014 00:00
What if a parking garage let you do more than just park?
What if you could eat lunch, buy some new shoes and go to the gym all in the same place you park your car? Or what if your next office or apartment was located in a parking garage? This may sound unbelievable to many people, who are used to a parking
garage meaning a drab, concrete eyesore of a building with bad lighting that an excess of crime show dramas has made a place you don’t want to spend too much time in by yourself. But for the four firms that recently presented at Long Island Index’s ParkingPlus
Challenge, a parking garage can have more potential than we think.
Long Island Index, an organization that seeks to increase community awareness of Long Island issues, opened the ParkingPlus Challenge last fall to architectural firms across the country. The challenge was intended not only to address parking needs in the community, but to help the public stretch their idea of what parking on Long Island could look like. Four firms were chosen and each assigned a community on Long Island: Ronkonkoma, Rockville Center, Patchogue and Westbury.
New York City based firm LTL Architects was assigned the task of helping Westbury transform its parking, and do it in a way that incorporated the Long Island Rail Road. One of the challenges the firm faced was that the parking surface was split between the Village of
Westbury and the LIRR (the north surface parking lot is owned by the village; the south by the LIRR). Another huge challenge was how to get the most use out of the limited horizontal space. Their solution? To build up and across.
LTL proposed multiple terraces that weave under, over and along the elevated LIRR tracks at the Westbury train station.
“We wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to bridge across. This will provide a complexity of activity on the ground level, but also connect the north and south parking lots,” said LTL Principal Architect David Lewis.
The firm also sought to solve the problem of what they called “trip-chaining,” where commuters would have to drive to multiple stops to achieve multiple goals such as picking up groceries, going to the gym, and dropping off dry cleaning. LTL suggested making a
parking facility that would become a vibrant urban hub, which would incorporate mixed use activities including a public green, office spaces, apartments, commercial spaces, retail facilities and a green market. Now instead of having to make multiple stops, commuters could work at an office at the parking garage, walk across a pathway to the public green for lunch, and at day’s end walk upstairs to their apartment.
“Our project envisions gathering together and consolidating those programs directly into the station complex itself, creating a one-stop experience for commuters,” the firm said.
To further cut down on the need for cars in the community, the firm also incorporated access to alternative means of public and personal transportation such as buses, ride sharing and cycling, in the form of an intermodal hub.
The innovative proposal would create over 1,400 parking spaces in both the south and north lots (383 in the south, 744 in the north) as well as numerous new uses such as open green space, 80 residential units, office space, incubator shop space, outdoor terraces, and more. However, with a cost range of anywhere from $62 to $82 million (cost to update parking for the south lot would be $14 to $20 million; north lot would be $15 to $22 million) it may be a while before you can play Frisbee on a terrace overlooking the village.
Westbury mayor Peter Cavallaro said he believes an attractive parking structure on the south side would be incredibly helpful in adding parking to help commuters and after-hour and weekend visitors to the Space.
“The design concepts developed by the LTL team offer an exciting array of ideas for possible implementation near our train station. The most significant and interesting idea is the development of tiered parking with a tie into the downtown business district,” Cavallaro said. “While the LTL conceptual design plan is very ambitious and futuristic, there are many elements that can be gleaned and used to enhance our downtown revitalization.”
Find out more about the LTL’s ideas to improve parking in Westbury at www.buildabetterburb.org/parking-plus/train-terraces.