Downtown parking lots closing for ramp construction

Two downtown parking lots will close Tuesday so construction can begin on parking ramps at those locations.

Contractors will be building parking structures on the city-owned parking lot west of Wells Fargo and on the lot north of US Bank. The closings will eliminate 267 of the Minot Parking Authority’s 383 downtown spaces.

The parking ramps are expected to add nearly double the parking spaces that they are eliminating. The ramps will serve the new residential and commercial developments that later will be going up as well on those lots, along with replacing the public parking.

Curt Clark, chairman of the parking authority, said displaced parking tenants will have free alternative parking on the south side of the Minot Municipal Auditorium during the construction. Other locations for alternative parking may become available later, he added.

In addition, a downtown property owner is opening lots for rent on the north end of Main Street.

The major impact of the closure will be on businesses that rent spaces in the two lots for employee parking. Clark said the parking authority is working on a plan to provide shuttle service from the auditorium to the downtown business district. During information meetings on the parking ramps earlier this year, employers and employees of businesses that operate into the night hours particularly stressed the need for interim shuttle service for safety reasons.

Mary Helen Hasby, owner of Cookies for You and a member of the parking authority board, said the public shouldn’t be concerned about parking during the busy holiday season or during the Holiday Train and other Christmas-related events. Shuttle parking from the auditorium may be an option during events, she said.

The temporary loss of the two lots could make parking a little tighter at times, though.

“We are trying to make it as accommodating as we can. But I think everyone might feel a little bit of a pinch,” Hasby said.

Some students at Central Campus also rent spots in the lots to be closed. The parking authority is encouraging students to use satellite lots, carpool or be dropped off.

The construction is expected to take several months. The more work that weather allows during the winter, the less parking impact there will be in the summer when the city begins tearing up some avenues to replace underground infrastructure, Hasby said.