Accompanied by Mayor Randall Woodfin and other leaders, the Birmingham Parking Authority (BPA) announced Thursday it is developing a strategic plan that will transform the parking experience in the downtown area, support economic development and meet the growing needs of businesses, workers and residents.
The BPA, working with city officials, downtown businesses, and parking users who live, work or visit the city’s central district, is kicking off the process this week with stakeholder meetings and surveys that will help inform the planning process. The BPA is also welcoming input from the general public.
“The process we are launching is deliberate and extremely ambitious,” said BPA Executive Director and CEO Andre Davis. “What we are creating is a whole new Birmingham Parking Authority. We are committed to making parking more convenient, safe, seamless and efficient. And we are doing this working hand-in-hand with city leaders and our business community.”
Mayor Woodfin welcomes the plan and praised the BPA’s new leadership. Davis took over as executive director and CEO in March 2022.
“We welcome the collaborative spirit of Andre Davis and the Birmingham Parking Authority board,” Mayor Woodfin said. “Their willingness to work with the city and with businesses will advance the economic development and livability goals of Birmingham. Parking is essential to a thriving downtown as we continue to see new business and residential developments. The strategic plan will add to the momentum that has been created.”
Davis said the BPA has three goals in developing the Strategic Parking Plan:
- Supporting economic growth through partnerships and projects that maximize use of the parking supply and aid businesses.
- Creating a unified parking experience that aligns off-street and on-street parking so they complement each other.
- Utilizing technology, such as apps that allow drivers to find, reserve and pay for parking using a smartphone or other device.
“Parking should be safe and seamless,” Davis said. “You should be able to reserve a parking spot, know the exact location of that spot, and be assured when you arrive that you will be able to park without any hassle, worry or loss of time. Getting in and out of our parking decks should be quick and hassle-free as well.”
The Birmingham Parking Authority operates seven parking decks and three surface parking lots in the downtown and surrounding areas, with a capacity of more than 8,000 spots. The City of Birmingham manages on-street parking, and there are close to 200 private parking lots in the downtown area. The Strategic Parking Plan will evaluate the various parking options and make recommendations to make the best use of the combined assets and alleviate problems. It will also recommend improvements to BPA’s parking facilities and administrative operation.
Birmingham City Councilman Darrell O’Quinn, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, said getting the BPA, city and private lot operators to work together will help solve some of downtown’s parking problems.
“Finding a safe place to park downtown shouldn’t be a pain,” O’Quinn said. “And you shouldn’t have to worry that if you mistakenly park in the wrong place that your car could be towed. We need to make it easy for people to understand where they can park to avoid these kinds of headaches.”
Kimley-Horn and Associates and Wood Solutions Group were chosen by the BPA to guide the development of the Strategic Parking Plan. Both are national planning, design and engineering firms.
The planning process began with stakeholder engagement meetings Wednesday, and similar meetings are being held today. In addition, surveys will go out to downtown businesses, BPA parking permit holders and other parking users to capture their input.
The public can also participate in the parking survey through BPA’s website, www.bhamparking.com. Updates and other information about the planning process are available on the BPA’s website and social media pages.