Danville officials plan to hire a consultant to prepare a strategic parking plan for the River District to address growth downtown.

The city sent out a request for proposals Wednesday, seeking bids from firms to develop the plan.

“As growth continues throughout the River District, we know that parking will continue to be an important component,” Assistant Economic Development Director Corrie Teague Bobe said. “We want to ensure that we’re keeping up to date on the current demand as well as projected future demand.”

City Manager Ken Larking said parking is becoming an issue in the River District as more businesses open up and people move downtown.

“With new growth and development, we’ve heard from visitors and businesses that parking is becoming more challenging,” Larking said.

City officials want to find out whether the River District has an adequate amount of parking and whether more on-street and off-street parking are needed.

A strategic parking plan would serve as a guide for future development and management of on-street and off-street parking, including public and private parking lots, city officials said.

“Since the River District has become more of a destination for entertainment and business, and has also become an area citizens want to live, a well-planned strategy is needed to address the need for available parking both now and in the future,” City Engineer Brian Dunevant said.

The River District includes downtown Danville, stretching south to Main and Jefferson streets, east to the far end of Craghead Street just past the Danville Science Center, west to Union Street Bridge and north to just behind the YMCA.

Among the complaints heard by officials is of people parking directly in front of a business and not going into it as well as no close parking spaces being available for some businesses.

According to the last parking study for the downtown and adjacent area, completed in 2013, there were 5,448 parking spaces, not including private off-street parking on residential streets. The city added about 230 spaces in that area since then, bringing the total to 5,678, Bobe pointed out.

“The study concluded that given the development that is anticipated soon to occur, our available parking will not be enough to serve the growth in the River District,” city officials wrote in the RFP sent out Wednesday.

The study recommended a 150-space parking structure and a 90-space surface lot.

“However, since this study was completed, significant growth has taken place with the addition of new apartments, offices, restaurants and retail,” city officials wrote. “In addition, a boutique hotel concept is currently underway. With these rapid changes, the city would like to conduct a new parking study based off of current and future needs.”

Currently, the city has parking spaces with no time limits. But paid parking could be an option the study would examine and city officials consider, Larking said.

To ignore that option “would not be doing service to a strategic parking plan,” the city manager added.

“Someone has a free parking space paid for by taxpayers,” he said. “Someone could end up leaving the car there.”

Officials also want the study to look at public-private parking, with public parking available in lots that are private during business hours.

The deadline for firms to submit sealed bids to the city is 5 p.m. July 25.

Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.

Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.

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