Finding parking during the holiday season can be challenging for shoppers everywhere and the same is sometimes true at Camana Bay.
However, a comprehensive four-year plan that leads to more than 4,000 total parking spaces and innovative ways of moving around the Town Centre will make coming to Camana Bay during the Christmas season — and the rest of the year — even more enjoyable for visitors and tenants alike.
“It’s great that we have the kind of growth and demand that we have at Camana Bay, but we realise it creates some parking issues in the short- to medium-term,” said Jackie Doak, president of Dart Real Estate. “Convenient and sufficient parking is essential to visitor and tenant experience at Camana Bay and we have made the development of a long-term parking plan a priority.”
The first quarter of 2018 will see the opening of three new surface parking lots, the first two of which are located just west of the Paseo, on either side of the pedestrian walkway known as the Rise that connects the Camana Bay Town Centre to West Bay Road. Scheduled to open in January, those two lots combined will provide nearly 350 new parking spaces proximate to the Paseo.
“These two new surface lots will meet the immediate needs for more parking and also provide interim relief while a new office building and parking structure in Block 7 is under construction,” said Doak.
Another 402-space surface parking lot just south of 89 Nexus Way, home to Ogier, Citco and the Dart group of companies, is scheduled to open in the second quarter of 2018. Simultaneously, an expansion of two additional levels of parking in the structure next to 62 Forum Lane will begin. Eighty spaces will be displaced during construction, but upon completion of the expansion — scheduled for the second quarter of 2019 — the number of spaces available in that structure will increase from the current 457 to 617.
Block 7, as it’s called internally in the Dart organisation, is the area of the large surface parking lot that currently provides parking for many of the tenants of the 62 Forum Lane, 18 Forum Lane and 89 Nexus Way buildings.
When construction starts on Block 7 in the second quarter of 2018, the current 304 parking spaces in that area will be displaced and tenants who parked there will be diverted to alternative parking.
“When Block 7 is under construction, the scale of the parking displacement will create some disruption, but we have some creative ideas to ensure we have enough parking and convenient, comfortable ways to move through Camana Bay,” said Doak.
To determine how best to redirect tenants of existing buildings in Camana Bay to available parking during the construction of the Block 7 parking structure, Dart Development referred to the established recommendations of the Urban Land Institute, a non-profit research and education organisation that seeks to provide leadership in the responsible use of land worldwide.
“The interim plan is to circle the Town Centre with surface parking lots and then assign parking to the most proximate convenient location,” said Dart Development Senior Manager of Design Alex Russell. “We’ve also given a lot of thought to the pedestrian experience, making sure it will be comfortable, pleasant and safe.” The plans include adding shade trees adjacent to walkways, considering the use of shade/rain-blocking structures and ensuring there is sufficient lighting and CCTV cameras, Russell said.
To help visitors and tenants get around after they park, Camana Bay will commence a shuttle service between select parking lots and will also offer complimentary valet service for the holiday season.
“The valet service is a part of a pilot programme and it could be extended to other months,” said Doak.
Other creative ideas for allowing people to move though Camana Bay are being considered as well, including a bicycle-sharing initiative. Upon the completion of the first phase of Block 7, scheduled for the second half of 2021, the new multi-level parking garage will have 1,093 spaces.
“The Block 7 parking structure is over-sized for the block in anticipation of it serving the parking needs for the southern part of Camana Bay,” said Doak. “It’s going to be a large upfront investment, but we need to make sure that we have more than adequate parking to satisfy the long-term growth of the community.”
By the time the Block 7 parking structure is complete, the two-level, 272-space parking structure near the new Foster’s Food Fair, along with an adjoining 148-space surface parking lot, will have also opened. By the end of 2022, there will be more than 4,000 parking spaces in Camana Bay.
Greg Papay, of the San Antonio-based Lake|Flato architecture firm that designed the 18 Forum Lane and One Nexus Way buildings, said that architects in the United States are already starting to plan for a future when automobiles are not as prevalent in society.
“The far edge of technology is the oncoming paradigm shift of driverless cars and technology reducing our dependence on owning an automobile and eventually probably leading many of us to purchase a driving service, like you purchase cable television or internet service,” he said. “You will have it available to you when you want to use it. In the case of a car though, it’s a physical thing that is picking you up, taking you somewhere, dropping you off, coming back and getting you and taking you somewhere else. That’s coming. The debate is whether it’s coming in five years or 25 years.”
Whenever this “paradigm shift” happens, large parking structures will become obsolete, taking up usable space that could accommodate green spaces or buildings with more useful purposes. While there will still be a need for some parking, Papay said that architects are now thinking about how to “future-proof” parking structures.
“So rather than building them in normal parking structure style and dimensions, we’re looking at building them so it could be repurposed in the future as retail space at the ground level, office or apartment space at the upper level.”
There are no current plans to repurpose any of Camana Bay’s parking structures, but Doak is not ruling it out for the future.
“We take pride in being adaptive and innovative at Dart Real Estate and if the realities of the future dictate a better usage of the parking structures, then we will certainly consider that,” she said.