Petoskey officials discuss parking needs in joint meeting

Downtown Petoskey's Darling public parking lot is shown.
Downtown Petoskey's Darling public parking lot is shown.

PETOSKEY — A long gestating proposal to bring a parking structure to the downtown Darling Parking Lot site was discussed on Monday at a joint meeting of the Petoskey City Council and planning commission.

Along with the project, city officials also discussed the need for parking in general and how to begin to make progress in creating more parking within the city.

City manager Shane Horn said when he first joined the staff about eight months ago, one of the first meetings he had was with a developer for the Darling Lot site, located at the corner of Petoskey and Michigan streets. It currently serves as public parking but has long been considered for redevelopment.

More:Petoskey officials presented with structure options for Darling Lot

While he was brought up to speed on past discussions about that site, Horn said “there’s a number of things that were not clear in my mind what both the bodies and the community at large was interested in seeing.”

“What I would like to see us discuss — and I don’t want to get into the weeds of designing a parking structure, that’s not the intent of this meeting — but I want to have some guidance on how do I correspond back and forth with a developer to give them guidance on how to proceed with that potential site,” Horn said.

Essentially, Horn said there were three options the governmental bodies could consider.

One would be to do nothing, which means basically embracing the city’s walkability and acknowledging that sometimes people will need to park farther away from their destination than they would like.

A second option would be to construct a parking structure, although that option brings along questions such as, how much of a net gain in spaces would be needed to make the structure viable?

That, in turn, also creates questions about how many levels the structure would need to be.

“One of the things that has been hammered home in the short time that I’ve been here is visibility is everything, which I certainly appreciate,” Horn said. “So, certainly we need to look at visibility and what we’re all interested in seeing on that particular site and what appetite we have for height on that particular site.”

A third option is to make the structure a mixed-use property, and combine the need for parking with the need for workforce housing in the community.

Horn noted that the ultimate goal of Monday’s meeting was not to make a final decision, but to provide city staff with feedback so they can answer questions and communicate effectively with a developer.

“The worst thing that I don’t want to do is have a developer spend a lot of time, money, resources putting a proposal together that is essentially dead on arrival before it even gets posted publicly,” he said. “I want to just provide that developer feedback and guidance on ‘This is where I think we could go.’”

Subscribe:Get unlimited digital access

The two governmental bodies discussed a wide range of topics related to the potential parking structure, including height requirements, adding elements like electric vehicle charging and solar panels, the structure’s aesthetics, and how it would be funded.

“I would be in favor of talking about a public space development, city-owned, of a parking structure but only if it incorporated solar on top of the roof … possibly leveraging some state or federal funding that’s available currently and probably into the future to subsidize and partner to have a solar array developed there,” said council member Lindsey Walker. “So that would be the only thing that I think I could support, in terms of a city-owned parking structure where we are responsible for its entire development and maintenance into the future.”

Others indicated they were interested in seeing mixed-use options or exploring other areas that could be redeveloped.

“I feel like our promise to use our parking funds to build a ramp somewhere is what I’ve been elected to represent,” said council member Brian Wagner. “And I think if we don’t do something at Darling, we should do something somewhere and start moving towards doing it and find the parking with or without solar. As I said before, I’m not a big fan of parking, but it’s been shown in our studies that it’s needed. So if we get to the point that we say we’re doing nothing, I’d like to say we’re doing something somewhere else.”

— Contact Jillian Fellows at  

This article originally appeared on The Petoskey News-Review: Petoskey officials discuss parking needs in joint meeting