Jefferson Centre Garage Done
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So the new parking garage on Jefferson Street may have been completed several months ago, but the last time we checked in with the structure, it still had a tower crane. The garage is now owned by PARC and is officially dubbed the Jefferson Centre Garage. We appreciate the antiquated spelling of “centre” to evoke historic feelings about the structure.

The retail space is still listed for lease and despite its small size, about 1,000 square feet, it could make a great sandwich or coffee shop. The detailed treatment of the windows on the corner stair towers is quite nice as well. The structure is a fortress, though, and within five minutes of entering the structure and climbing to the top level to check out the view, a security guard was there to make sure I was all right.

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Branden Klayko


  1. When I saw this structure yesterday, it had cars parked in it. It looks much better empty but even empty, it seems a tad out of place with the other structures near it. More parking is good though.

  2. Intended or not (my bet is on the former), I love the sarcasm in:

    “We appreciate the antiquated spelling of “centre” to evoke historic feelings about the structure.”

    Ah yes, more primo real estate for thee and thou to stowe thine’s motor carriages.

    Seriously, hope the retail space is put to good use and I’m glad it was included. Design-wise, it’s not bad and, yes, somehow too I can at least appreciate the olde time spelling.

    But that’s all faint praise because it’s another stinkin’ parking garage. Admittedly, I do not regularly park downtown and am less tied to an automobile in accessing downtown than many are. But, did we really need this? Is parking at such a premium that we must devote this much prime space to it? Not being rhetorical…I’m not sure if parking is under- or over-provided for a downtown area Louisville’s size. Anybody know? Surely the arena at least partially motivated this but, if that’s the case, is garage parking grossly overprovided on (the many) non-game days? The simple construction of more parking may seem unimportant on the surface, but such a structure has important local transportation policy implications and certainly sets the tone for the what mode is most rewarded.

    Think of the hissy-fits thrown at any mention of a downtown bike station.

  3. I’m glad you noticed the sarcasm, Jeremy. The spelling just seemed a little odd considering the time, place, and style of the garage. I was originally built by the owners of the adjacent 222 Building and later acquired by PARC so I assume the building owners wanted to have off-street parking available to tenants. I’m sure the proximity to the arena and convention center also came into play.

    Like I said, I like the window details at the corner towers but there’s something about the “H” shape that keeps jumping out and it’s a little distracting.

  4. every time a new parking garage is built downtown i have less and less desire to return to louisville as it is clear the city is not serious about developing viable public transit options. makes me personally sad but i guess, in the end it really just sucks for what could be a nice city to live in.

  5. no need to despair because of parking garages, creamer. even cities serious about public transit are also serious about parking. in my mind, garages allow cars to be compressed into less real estate, freeing all those open parking lots for development.

    public transit, when (and if) it becomes more sophisticated in louisville, will depend on a density of development and street-level activity – reasons to walk along the street without spending most of that time skirting a parking lot.

    as an example, before minneapolis got serious about their public transit in the ’90s, they spent a lot of time and money reworking their parking infrastructure. it didn’t replace the need for transit but, instead, became part of the larger system that was eventually realized.

    transportation in louisville is slowly beginning to be looked at more holistically. garages may be a symptom, but not a cause, imo.

  6. Have to agree that more and more parking garages ARE cause for despair. True, parking garages are more dense and take up less land than surface lots. But that is far from a legitimate reason to build them.

    Think of the opportunity cost of the construction of new parking garages. What COULD HAVE been built in that space? And with that money? I know garages can generate revenues/pay the rent, but surely something else at least slightly higher on the civic-purpose-totem-pole than an auto storage facility could have been constructed on that spot.

    Archintent, I don’t understand how extensive downtown parking infrastructure could dovetail into a broader, more holisitc transit system. I understand park and ride systems–a la Park and TARC, in use in Louisville–whereby suburban commuters can park in an outlying lot and transit to the city. But that is the reverse of downtown parking garages. I don’t see how construction of parking facilities on expensive, central downtown land–the very place where we want people to transit–incentivizes people out of their cars. To me, it’s rewarding the very behavior transit fans (or sensible urban-minded folk, in general) rightfully wish to discourage.

    In my opinion, a city cannot simultaneously be serious about downtown parking and transit. It is a push-pull, zero sum game with parking and transit on opposite ends of a shared continuum.

  7. The downtown arena is going to need parking spaces and this development is fairly well positioned to disperse traffic, unlike the idiotic 700 car parkeing garage under the arena. TARC is not going to be a viable option for many people at the time of night the arena events let out. I am for anything that replaces a street level parking lot ( AKA a missing tooth) with a building that has ground level activity, unless of course it looks like an Al Schneider building. I just wonder why they don’t put a couple of penthouse apartments or offices on the top floors of these things.

  8. No, TARC won’t be an option (well…it could be if both TARC and locals made some adaptations/attitude adjustments; I’m not holding my breath) for many arena-goers. No doubt the addition of the arena required some thinking about parking.

    But streets themselves have an impressive level of parking built-in. (Note: not saying all arena-goers could or should be accommodated by street parking) What is the baseline at which basketball fans of the 2010-2011 season are to be accommodated? The current (and historic) status-quo of Freedom Hall/Expo Center has always required long walks in the cold in an uncovered parking lot.

    I’m sure some sort of parking inventory study has been completed for this arena. Is that available? That might be an interesting read. Although parking requirements and recommendations famously (and grossly) over supply. Bars zoned for a parking space per bar stool (good implicit public health/safety message there!) and malls with 110% Christmas Eve capacity with an empty moat of spaces for 350 days a year.

    Not saying parking has been oversupplied for this arena. I really don’t know. This building may be prudent and necessary. But the devil’s advocate in me questions if that really is so.

  9. While a parking garage is certainly not going to generate the excitement as just about any other development Downtown, I always try to take the approach that we’re not building a finished-product city. It’s a work in progress. When we do achieve the goals we’re after – whether those are density or transit, etc – the economics of parking will be different than today and the future city will have evolved into something completely different than today.

    As long as there are vast expanses of surface level parking Downtown, there will still be other development opportunities on many other sites and a garage will also free up more surface lots for redevelopment as noted above.

    What might be interesting to imagine is what defunct garages might morph into over time. These are massive, strong buildings that could eventually be converted to other uses (though there are some issues like floor-to-floor heights and ramps). Could today’s parking garage’s be tomorrow’s adaptive reuse project?

    As long as we’re building garages, it’s going to be important to build them right. I think this one does a pretty good job. It’s tall at six levels so it takes up less space. It doesn’t sit on the corner where a more monumental building should go but takes up the center of the block. It has retail space, even though not much. The design isn’t bad.

    There’s a lot of surface parking left, especially in this area of Downtown, that will eventually be filled with great mixed-use buildings.

    One note on arena parking: I haven’t looked over the arena parking study but I heard that there’s more parking around the new arena than around Freedom Hall. Anyone have those details?

  10. I’m not sure anyone has discussed the ways in which the blossoming of nightlife restaurants and bars around the arena – O’Shea’s, BBC, etc. – might ease the traffic bursts at the ends of games and concerts. Louisville nightlife starts late. I’m sure many people, anticipating getting in their cars for bumper-to-bumper time, are going to say, “Let’s go have a beer and a bite to eat instead.” And there will be those looking for the best parking spaces, who will decide to go downtown early, hang out at a bar or restaurant, then wander into the arena. I don’t think the arena is going to be the traffic nightmare many anticipate, and it’s really going to help downtown continue to grow. Just save all of Whiskey Row!

  11. Good point. Not much going on, nightlife-wise, around Freedom Hall and the Expo Center–certainly not in the immediate vicinity as will be downtown.

    The fairgrounds also had much more limited access and was not blessed with an efficient grided street network. I have high hopes for traffic and don’t believe it will be nightmarish either.

  12. yes the presence of bars and restaurants will relieve some of the traffic problems. However, this part of downtown is not a natural nightlife area and did not really need the shot in the arm the way south 4th street did. The ideal arena location would have been 4th and Broadway (Brown Bros Caddilac) with a large parking garage (ground level offices or retail) between 5th and 6th, maybe 7th, on Broadway. The only significant building along this stretch is about the ugliest thing ever designed, compliments of Al Schneider of course. I know its a moot point now but the corner of 2nd and Main will be a traffic nightmare and the street grid system will not operate as efficiently as possible because of how the arena is placed next to the river. I also support the current plan to use the facades of the Iron Quarter building. Many of Europes great buildings have been rebuilt with just the facades remaning.