5:58 pm Jul. 20, 2012
Parking, and concerns about parking, have been an issue for developer Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project pretty much right from the beginning.
With reason. The site may sit atop one of the city's biggest transit hubs, but it is also at one of the city's more congested intersections, where Flatbush, Atlantic and Fourth avenues converge in one big, slow-moving mess.
The overall project may be much delayed, but neighborhood concerns about traffic persist, with the imminent opening of the Nets Barclays Center arena in September.
A lot of nearby residents want residential parking permits, can't get them, and are convinced that they'll have no place to park their cars during game-time. And no space through which to drive them, anyway.
Meanwhile, the more than 1,000 parking spots originally planned for the arena, were reduced to 550, following worries that the car-stacking hydraulic lifts required to fit all those cars would move so slowly that they would only further tangle traffic.
Sam Schwartz, the traffic consultant on the project, argued that fewer spaces would also mean fewer drivers.
Meanwhile, a Chicago-based company that allows drivers to find nearby parking lots online and book spaces ahead of time, is preparing to capitalize on the chaos.
"We want to be here to help people make the best of a bad situation," said Justin Baker, the marketing manager of the company, ParkWhiz, which positions itself as the Expedia of the driving world and connects drivers with millions of parking spots via its website.
The company was founded in 2006, but only with the imminent opening of Barclays is ParkWhiz entering the Brooklyn market.
In April, the site began marketing parking spots in two private lots within walking distance of the arena: the Prospect Heights ParkRight at 315 St. Mark's Avenue, between Underhill and Washington avenues, about 10 blocks from the stadium; and the Downtown Brooklyn ParkRight at Gold and Tillary streets, also about a 10-block hike. Six more are expected to go live before Jay-Z's opening show in September.
In exchange for bringing cars to parking lots, the ParkWhiz gets about 15 percent of the parking fee.
Local politicians have been advocating a residential parking permit system, but that would require state approval, which, since the Bloomberg administration is not on board, the state is unlikely to grant.
Baker argues that ParkWhiz will help, by at the very least, reducing the number of drivers circling the arena looking for parking spaces.
"If people know exaclty where they’re going ahead of time, they will dodge a lot of traffic and they will have their spot reserved," said Baker.
Local Councilwoman Letitia James is not convinced.
"They should not drive," she said, adding, "Individuals still have to get to the location, and that would entail them driving into the neighborhood. And I would hope that again the focus should be on using mass transit, mass transit and more mass transit."
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