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Reimagining The Parking Lot

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Spaces During the Pandemic

When is a parking lot not a parking lot? When it’s an art gallery. Or a performance space. Or a restaurant. Or a home for animatronic dinosaurs. Those are just some of the creative approaches that property owners are using to monetize their empty parking lots during the pandemic. It’s no secret that urban commuting has fallen off a cliff and that property owners are stuck with empty parking lots that used to generate thousands of dollars – or more – in income every month. Thanks to the pandemic, many of these once-full spaces are now sitting idle, however, that doesn’t mean that they can’t generate at least some income. Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting ways that parking garages and outdoor parking lots have been repurposed and reimagined.

Van Gogh Exhibition: Transforming Parking Spaces

What does a Dutch painter who died more than 130 years ago have to do with parking garages? The answer is quite a lot. That’s because the immersive Vincent van Gogh multimedia exhibition being held in Toronto is actually in the garage of a downtown office building. Best known as home to the Toronto Star, 1 Yonge Street is a premier commercial location in the heart of Toronto’s business district. Unfortunately, over a year of provincial and city lockdowns has created pretty much a ghost town in the downtown core. Enter Immersive Van Gogh, which allows people to drive their cars into the garage for a 360-degree video experience accompanied by music and audio narration. It’s a perfect use for a large indoor space that can accommodate cars – and a way for the property owners to recoup some of the losses caused by a decline in monthly and daily parking.

High Park: Calgary’s Urban Oasis

A few thousand kilometers west of Toronto, the city of Calgary has turned the roof of a local parking garage into a lush urban park. High Park (so named because it sits six stories above the city) “reimagines the under-utilized two-acre rooftop of the Centre City Parkade and provides much-needed additional public space in the community.” While the space can easily be converted back into parking spaces if necessary, with the expected long-term reduction in the number of downtown commuters as a result of the pandemic, it is very likely that this park will become a permanent fixture in Calgary. As more cities begin to realize the benefits of urban parks and gardens, these solutions are ideal for cities looking to support their community. It provides a space for socially distant nature visits, while post-pandemic, it can be used to host art shows, concerts, and support the local art community.

High Park: Calgary’s Urban Oasis

A few thousand kilometers west of Toronto, the city of Calgary has turned the roof of a local parking garage into a lush urban park. High Park (so named because it sits six stories above the city) “reimagines the under-utilized two-acre rooftop of the Centre City Parkade and provides much-needed additional public space in the community.” While the space can easily be converted back into parking spaces if necessary, with the expected long-term reduction in the number of downtown commuters as a result of the pandemic, it is very likely that this park will become a permanent fixture in Calgary. As more cities begin to realize the benefits of urban parks and gardens, these solutions are ideal for cities looking to support their community. It provides a space for socially distant nature visits, while post-pandemic, it can be used to host art shows, concerts, and support the local art community.

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