Parking garages are silly investments for the State

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on

Today’s Globe reports on a bond bill earmark that gives Salem funding to build a parking garage. The article focuses on environmental advocates objections. They (correctly) don’t want to see the bulk of Transit-Oriented Development funding going to a single project.

And I’ll give you another reason to dislike the idea — parking garages should be able to support themselves. If there really is ‘demand’ for parking, then people will pay for it. And if parking generates a revenue stream, then it should be able to finance some portion of the garage, if not all of it. Perhaps a private developer could be given a 20 year lease to take any risk off of the community.

Don’t believe me, take a look at my rough attempt to finance the project — Salem Parking Garage Calculator. With some relatively conservative assumptions, I’m up to $27 million of the total $34 million in project costs. If you threw in some extra benefits — a longer lease, maybe some retail development, etc, — it would not be hard to get the entire project done with private money.

There are limited resources for the state to spend. Don’t waste them on projects that the private sector can handle.