With Oklahoma City’s downtown garages at 121 percent occupancy with a waiting list for spaces, an influx of more than 1,600 new parking spaces can’t come soon enough for Debi Holtzclaw.
Holtzclaw, parking services manager with the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority, is juggling a spiking demand for parking caused by an influx of new companies wanting to locate downtown, while also shuffling customers who had to temporarily be relocated from the Century Center garage while it undergoes repairs.
Demand for parking spaces will only climb higher, she notes, as the John W. Rex Elementary opens this fall, The Oklahoma Publishing Company moves to Century Center in the winter, and Continental Resources, Tapstone Energy and other companies continue to grow their downtown workforces.
“I’ve been in the parking side of this for six years, and we’ve seen demand keep on increasing and increasing year after year,” Holtzclaw said. “I don’t think it’s ever been like this historically.”
Short-term solutions have included shuttling employees from their offices to surface lots the authority controls in the old Interstate 40 right-of-way.
Relief, meanwhile, is coming via public and private expansions.
The authority is hoping construction will wrap up this summer on the 10-story, 830-space Arts District Garage being built just south of City Hall. A three-story, 336-space addition, meanwhile, is being built atop the City Center Garage by the ownership group that also controls Leadership Square, Oklahoma, Corporate and City Place Towers.
As the garages reopen, Holtzclaw expects some customers may find their parking spots relocated from one garage to another.
“It’s going to be a major shuffle,” said Holtzclaw, who added the system will still be at 100 percent occupancy when all the new spaces go online.
Cathy O’Connor, president of The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, said more garage construction is likely.
Developer Don Karchmer has spent the past year working with architects and engineers to design a garage at E.K. Gaylord and Main just east of the BNSF Railway viaduct that will accommodate any future passenger rail transit that might need access to the property in the future.
Phoenix-based Kimley-Horn was recently hired to conduct a parking study for the Alliance that looks at how to best accommodate parking needs associated with the new convention center and park being built as part of MAPS 3, and how a garage for those new venues (and potentially a conference hotel) can be situated where it can also provide parking for the Central Business District.