More Downtown visitors may have to ditch their cars and walk like these folks when Parking Structures 6 and 3 will be closed in 2012 due to renovations and the construction of a new movie theater. City officials are developing a plan to ease the expected parking crunch. (photo by Brandon Wise)

DOWNTOWN — The planned renovation of Parking Structure 6, along with the AMC proposal for a new cinema on Fourth Street that would replace Parking Structure 3, could mean a fresh headache for commuters to Downtown in the form of 681 fewer parking spaces while construction of both projects is underway.

Though both projects are a ways off — the expected construction overlap isn’t expected until sometime in 2012 — City Hall officials this month are starting to make plans to deal with the eventual reduction in parking space availability.

Parking Structure 6, which has 342 spaces at 1431 Second St., is expected to shut down for renovation sometime in 2011, and will eventually reopen with 710 spaces. The AMC theater project would replace Parking Structure 3, located at 1320 Fourth St., with a multiplex, eliminating 339 parking spaces.

AMC is in the midst of negotiating a development agreement for the project and could begin construction in 2012.

Once both projects are completed, Downtown will end up with a net gain of 29 parking spaces. But the construction phase could be painful.

Ideas on the table to offset the short-term parking space decrease include constructing a temporary two-story structure at Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue, setting up a valet program using privately owned garages and moving more than 500 monthly parkers to the Civic Center, according to a City Hall report.

Also up for debate are some more out-of-the-box solutions, like a possible smart phone application that would direct commuters to lots with open spaces.

“At this point everything is under consideration,” said Don Patterson, City Hall’s parking guru.

City Hall is holding a study session to discuss possible Downtown parking changes on Monday, Oct. 25 at 6 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium East Wing. Staff is also set to meet with the Chamber of Commerce’s Land Use and Assets Committee to discuss parking this Thursday.

Patterson said the idea is to begin meeting with stakeholders early so the best solutions can be put in place.

“Starting a year in advance of when we have to implement anything gives us time to vet different ideas and make sure we’re taking into consideration the various needs of the people who use the Downtown structures,” Patterson said.

Also up for discussion are ways to add additional transportation demand management programs or possibly change parking rates or add new on-street and off-street parking technologies.

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