The question of modern urban parking is answered by pairing the Saratoga Springs City Center’s three-story parking structure with the adjacent Flat Rock Park.
Maximizing parking spaces and green spaces within a city are often conflicting ideals. In Saratoga Springs, the odd pairing equals success.
Saratoga has been grappling with how to add more parking spaces downtown for at least thirty years, said Saratoga Springs City Center Executive Director Ryan McMahon.
Plans have come and gone since then, but the one that gained enough momentum to reach fruition was spearheaded by former City Center President Mark Baker beginning in 2015, at the end of his 33-year career.
Championed by Joe Dalton, Chairman of the Saratoga Springs City Center Authority Board, then Mayor Meg Kelly, and others; in 2018 the plan for the parking garage and adjoining park was approved.
Resilient By Design
In 2020, Saratoga Springs City Center parking structure construction was completed. Built of precast concrete, this durable material is not even in the same world as the asphalt used in surface lots, said McMahon.
“Blacktop is a soft material that needs repaving and constant attention. Concrete is a lot more resilient,” he said, which keeps maintenance costs at a minimum.
The structure’s three levels steadily accommodate 620 vehicles in a pay-to-park system; the first hour is free, parking costs $2/hour after that, for a maximum of $15/day.
During peak times, from 8am – 6pm daily, and during events, usage exceeds 14,000 transactions/month. Average usage equals 8,000 transactions/month.
In addition to protection from the weather, lighting, signage, and other safety measures let customers know they (and their property) will remain safe.
The largest operating expense of the City Center’s $17 million project is the security services provided by US Security. In addition to full-time, overnight building and parking structure security, they monitor the pedestrian bridge and loading docks, two elevators and multiple exits; provide crowd control and services at events with alcohol. The facility’s approximately 35 cameras are monitored remotely, and their blue emergency telephones are directly connected to the Saratoga Springs Police Department.
Originally built in 1984, today’s expanded City Center and adjoining Saratoga Hilton boast a combined 58,000 sq. ft. of multi-functional leasable space. A positive economic engine for downtown Saratoga Springs, the unique conference complex hosts conventions, corporations, New York State associations, trade groups, northeast regional organizations, and more. Direct economic impacts from visitor spending, as well as indirect and induced economic impacts from business-to-business activity and growth of personal income for residents, result.
“We’ve had a generally positive reaction to the plan and now, our closest neighbors are supportive and are experiencing the benefits,” said McMahon.
Flexible Green Space
Last October, Flat Rock Park, at 37 High Rock Ave, officially opened, providing an additional outdoor venue in an advantageous downtown location with easy access to amenities.
A downtown connector to the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail (a planned 24-mile walking and biking path looping through Saratoga) this public green space offers recreational opportunities while also creating a wildlife corridor connecting nearby High Rock Park with Congress Park. The plantings naturally control water, reduce air pollution and the urban heat island effect.
“It’s a great addition to the area, and a great place to eat lunch,” said McMahon.
Expanded Event Offerings
In addition to its environmental and health benefits, Flat Rock Park contributes to the city’s economic vitality by hosting events in conjunction with the City Center parking garage.
In July, when a monumental storm poured down on the Celebrate Saratoga! events (welcoming people downtown for Saratoga Race Course’s Opening Day) the party moved from the Flat Rock Park outdoor stage to the parking garage’s sheltered lower level.
On July 4th and New Year’s Eve, the third-floor parking deck is used for the city’s fireworks displays, giving everyone in the area a terrific view of the festivities.
Beginning Sunday, September 3rd, Saratoga Springs’ first Cannabis Growers Showcase will host licensed growers and retailers selling cannabis products. Running Tuesdays and Sundays from 12 noon until 6pm, the Showcase will continue through the end of the year.
On September 23rd, from 9am – 4pm, the Saratoga Giant PumpkinFest, a free family-friendly event, returns to the Saratoga Springs City Center parking garage and Flat Rock Park.
For more information, go to https://www.saratogacitycenter.org