The new East Avenue Wegmans has been open for a month. Customers love the store, but I hear a lot of kvetching about the parking lot.
The East Ave. Wegmans is forcing us to rethink the big box store in the city. The planners didn’t get it perfect (The Winton and University sides of the building look like a prison). But it did get the parking right. The complaints shine a light on our car-centric, suburban-shopping mentality.
1. “There are not enough parking spaces.”
There are far fewer parking spaces than we will find at a suburban Wegmans. The project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement says, “Wegmans is proposing a total of 484 spaces, of which 352 will be surface spaces available to customers…In its suburban locations, Wegmans is providing between 400 and 850 parking spaces, with an average of 628 spaces. By Wegmans’ normal standards, the proposed Food Market would be under-parked by approximately 140 spaces.”
Except on opening day, I have yet to see the parking lot appear full. (Even on the first day, I got a spot.) Peak times are Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons, which Wegmans acknowledges could be dicey. Is it such a big deal for customers to have to circle a bit to find a spot or walk a little farther during peak times?
There is a consequence to building too much parking. Parking takes up space for greenery and development. It’s ugly. It is also not feasible to build an expansive parking lot in a dense urban area. Furthermore, there are surrounding businesses with a lot of empty parking lots during off-hours. Businesses should learn to share.
There’s simply no way Wegmans could have built a typical parking lot at East Ave.Keep in mind, parking lots are almost never full. Look at how parking eats up the Lyell Ave. store:
2. “There should be more than the two access points on East and University avenues.”
Wegmans predicted a 35 percent increase in traffic to the store. “Because of its urban location the trip rates for this store are skewed since many patrons frequent the store several times per week, often on their way home from work, versus completing one large shopping trip on the weekends, which is typical of other store locations.”
Wegmans’ traffic studies showed there could be backups during peak shopping times, but they weren’t horrible. I’ve been caught in a couple bottlenecks at the East Ave. store and waited no more than 10 minutes to enter or exit.
3. East and/or University should have been expanded to accommodate additional traffic to the store.
Wegmans addressed this in the EIS. “The traffic study does not warrant the addition of travel lanes. Reduction of travel lanes reduces traffic conflicts and makes travel safer. Also, a two lane layout on East Avenue to the west of the Project Site will meter volume of traffic through the area.”
On the issue of pedestrian safety:
“Wegmans has incorporated several mitigation measures to increase pedestrian safety:
– Reduced number of curb cuts, around entire project site, from 11 to 4
– Direct access to Market Café from East Avenue
– Sidewalks will surround site
– Truck maneuvering completely on-site, which limits vehicle/pedestrian/bike conflicts”
4. The curvy road down the middle of the parking lot is weird and frustrating.
It’s safer. Just imagine how cars would zip back and forth, making it difficult for shoppers to reach their cars on the other side of the lot.
When it came to mitigating impact of cars on the neighborhood, Wegmans did a rather good job. The rest is in our hands. Drive slowly in the parking lot. Look for customers and other cars before we back out of a parking space. Be patient when coming and going. Enjoy a new kind of shopping experience closer to home.
Links of the Day:
– This is an important read. Erie and Niagara counties added hundreds of miles of roads over the last two decades, even as the population dropped. Sprawl without growth is costly. That’s why developers building in outlying areas are lying when they say they’re adding to the tax base.