Why there is so much great parking in the Phoenix, Arizona area
I lived for several years in Los Angeles, California, and when I moved back to Phoenix, I was absolutely amazed at the great parking spots. And even though I've lived in the Phoenix area many years, the great parking still amazes me. And all it takes is a trip to LA, or a visit from some California friends to remind me.
Like in LA, parking started to become a real problem in Phoenix in the 1950s. And that's when Phoenix started doing something about it. Because without parking, people won't go somewhere to shop. And it wasn't enough to build parking garages, the parking lots had to be inviting, big, and empty. The idea was to shout to people who might want to stop and shop, "Hey, plenty of free parking here!"
If you've never lived anywhere with a serious parking problem, you may be inclined to become disgruntled that you have to park so far away in a parking lot. I've been a passenger in cars here in Phoenix when the driver has said, "dang, there's no parking!", while I am looking out at acres of empty spots. What they mean by "no parking" just means not right up in front of the entrance.
So, the next logical step, which is becoming more popular now, in addition to having a lot of parking, is to divide the parking up as much as possible to allow the cars to park closer to a building. That is, the buildings, instead of being in an enclosed mall, surrounded by a parking lot, are in the center, along with parking, and extra parking being allowed along the perimeter.
Great parking is critical to the success of a particular area, whether for retail or restaurants. Yes, people will search for parking spots by driving around, or they will pay for parking if they have no choice. But in the Phoenix area, they have a choice.
Image above: Park Central Shopping City in the 1950s, Central and Earll, Phoenix, Arizona
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Posted by Brad Hall