Since only the Town Center (TC) portion of Planning Area #7
relies extensively on off-site parking facilities, the focus of the parking
inventory and analysis is on the TC zoning district. The other zoning districts
– the three residential Neighborhood Conservation (NC) districts, the two
Commercial Service (CS) districts, the two Institutional districts and the
Industrial district – require on-site parking with new development plans.
Nevertheless, since parking was a frequently mentioned issue in some of the more
densely populated neighborhoods, such as the southeast and east planning areas
and residential areas adjacent to the Town Center, residential parking is
briefly addressed. Public parking facilities in the Borough are shown on Map
As discussed in the housing inventory and analysis, as
housing unit densities approach twenty (20) units per acre (2,000 s.f. per
unit), on-site parking becomes less feasible: there is simply not enough room on
a residential lot to accommodate a house and parking at this lot size.
Therefore, some areas exceeding twenty (20) units per acre must utilize
on-street and public parking lots.
Average housing unit densities exceed this 20 unit per acre
threshold in the East (3) and Commercial (7) Planning Areas, with average
residential lot area densities of 21 and 30 units per acre respectively. This
density is also exceeded in Industrial Planning Area 8. Only 19 dwelling units
on very small lots are found in this otherwise large area. This density is also
approached in the Southeast Planning Area, which has an average residential lot
density of 19 units per acre.
The conversion of existing single family units to
multi-family units and the development of new units in the NC residential
districts is no longer permitted, however, this does not resolve existing
parking problems. Since many apartment units in the Southeast and Southwest
Planning Areas serve as West Chester University student housing, additional
action on the part of the University to provide long-term student parking would
help to alleviate these shortages. Although additional off-alley parking has
been suggested as a solution, an analysis of these areas revealed few
opportunities to provide a significant amount of parking.
As mentioned in the introduction to this section, much of
the downtown parking demand is met with off-site parking. Table 13, Town Center
Parking Inventory, lists most of the public and private parking available in or
near the TC zoning district. Over 70% (about 1,800 spaces) of Town Center
parking is comprised of public lots and garages (1,319 spaces) and on-street
metered and un-metered spaces (676). Remaining parking is on private alley
accessed lots (255 spaces), private lots and garages (148 spaces) and for
Chester County workers (303 spaces). Complaints about the state of downtown
parking availability is common, however the actual amount of parking needed in
the Town Center is difficult to determine. One approach used in the 1988 Huth
Parking and Traffic Analysis was to measure on-street parking vacancy rates.
Using this methodology, the Huth report found that a parking shortage was
generally limited to the courthouse block.
In order to provide another measure of parking demand,
County assessment data of commercial floor area were compiled by three use
types: retail, office and restaurant, and standard parking and floor area ratios
were used to help quantify demand. The quantification by use type also
facilitated analysis of demand according to time of day, known as a “shared
parking analysis.” Most apartment residents in the Town Center do not require
daytime parking that is needed by office workers. Peak demand for restaurant
parking is likely to occur during the noontime lunch hour and in the evening.
This analysis is presented as Figure 2, Town Center Parking Analysis.
In preparing this analysis, a floor area parking ratio of
three (3) spaces per 1,000 s.f. was used for office and retail space, and 20
spaces per 1,000 s.f. was used for restaurant uses. The floor area figures
reported in the assessment data are for gross area (building footprint and
number of floors) it was reduced somewhat in this analysis to adjust for net
floor area. Floor area was further adjusted to account for generalizations made
in assigning county land use categories.
As shown in Figure 2, this analysis demonstrates that peak
parking demand in the Town Center is not simply a sum of each use’s peak demand,
it varies by the daytime hour of peak demand. While the analysis shows that
existing demand almost equals existing supply during the peak demand hours from
noon to 3 PM, more meaningful conclusions should not be made until a more
accurate inventory of Town Center commercial space and additional private
parking is prepared.
Table 13: Town Center
Figure 2: Town Center Parking Analysis