You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone

Tyler Hoffman, Editor-in-Chief

When Joni Mitchell recorded “Big Yellow Taxi” in 1970, she proclaimed “[t]hey paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” The world has certainly changed in the 40 years since the song’s recording, but, by and large, trees were still the first thing to go when the world needed another place to park their expanding fleet of cars.

Until now, that is. Do you want to visit University Circle, be it for an hour or for years? Do you dare to bring an automobile? Good luck because I have news for you: they fenced our parking lot to put up a new building.

Over Winter Break, MRN Ltd., the developer responsible for the highly popular Uptown project, fenced-off the metered parking lot on Euclid Ave. between Ford Dr. and Verizon Wireless. The arrival of the chain-link perimeter is in preparation of Uptown’s second phase, which aims to bring an 85-foot building to the popular corner.

Who are the tenants? Cleveland Institute of Art students, ground floor businesses, and high-income tenants looking to secure one of the building’s 43 apartments that will be available for rent.

Looking for a place to park your car rather than spend your paycheck? MRN, Ltd and University Circle, Incorporated, the nonprofit group who owned the land, bid you happy hunting.

The need to find CIA students their own on-campus housing is of vital concern to Case Western Reserve University, however. The school desperately needs to vacate Taplin Hall, the North Residential Village abode CIA students occupy, in order to make room for the progressively increasing size of CWRU’s first-year classes.

But did a parking lot need to be sacrificed to meet this end? The removal of the Euclid Ave. and Ford Dr. parking lot is just the latest in a long string of assaults against parking in University Circle, such as the forsaking of the lot behind the Euclid Starbucks in favor of the Marriott Hotel, currently under construction.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not against members of the campus and local communities from having to walk. In fact, I encourage it. What worries me, however, is that University Circle developers have fostered a culture where visitors (including parents of university students) arrive in fear of being ticketed because of a lack of available parking. (And ticketed they often will be.)

Additionally, the absence of parking has caused serious safety concerns on the roadway. Without a place to park when stopping for a cup of coffee at Starbucks or grabbing a slice of pizza from Rascal House, drivers have taken the approach long championed by the Cleveland Police Department: throw on your hazard lights and illegally park on the street.

The result is an impeded lane, often at the height of rush hour, in which vehicles must merge bumper-car style into a single string.

According to The Plain Dealer’s business reporter, Michelle Jarboe McFee, there are new parking options on the way. “The Coral Co. and Panzica Construction Co. are planning additional parking, in garages, at their Intesa project just south of here, off Mayfield Road,” she said in reply to a concerned commenter on Additionally, University Circle Inc. opened its Ford Dr. lot to the public; the lot was previously reserved for permit holders only.

Still, it appears as though parking is an afterthought for University Circle, and it shouldn’t be. If we truly want to become a destination in Greater Cleveland, we need to make the experience as attractive as possible. And that means having as many available parking spaces our area can muster.

After all, nothing lays out the welcome mat quite as well as wallpapering cars with expensive tickets or rear-ending the busy commuter who just wants a cup of coffee before heading into the office.