Community members, stakeholders, data collection to guide new plan
Editor’s note: This story was updated on Nov. 7 to include comment from Highland Park Village’s spokesperson, Victoria Snee.
Highland Park Village is updating its parking model for the first time since 2014.
The last time it was updated, there were eight restaurants in the Village. Now, eight years later, there are 12 restaurants and the Park House Social Club, in addition to the shopping scene.
Residents gathered for a community meeting Oct. 3 to share their concerns with the parking situation: a “shared parking model.” This means that developers used data supporting that shoppers tend to visit multiple stores and restaurants during visits, with “staggered peaks,” as peak times differ because of the mixed retail uses within the shopping center.
“I understand that the Village is trying to be the Rodeo Drive of the East, and they have done a good job of increasing tax revenue for the town, so we appreciate that, but it has lost its community charm, and I think that’s really what most people are upset about, aside from not being able to get in and out of there,” Mayor Will C. Beecherl said during a Sept. 20 town council study session.
Victoria Snee, Highland Park Village’s chief marketing officer, responded by emphasizing the shopping center’s community engagement through events and charitable efforts.
“Highland Park Village welcomes and greatly values the community’s input and strives to always provide a pleasurable experience for neighbors and visitors alike,” Snee said. “We are dedicated to offering the community not just the very best shopping and dining experience, but we are also very proud to support countless local charitable organizations and schools through monetary efforts, event partnerships, and promotion with flags that are flown throughout the shopping center and corner entrance signs. We are also pleased to plan and organize beloved community events like our annual Spring shopping stroll featuring Easter photos with bunnies and our highly attended Christmas Lights Celebration featuring photos with Santa, face painters, a toy drive benefiting Community Partners of Dallas, and the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary.”
Neighbors at the community meeting were given the floor to give input. Some of the suggestions included:
• Building underground parking to “go vertical”
• Eliminating valet services
• Creating a designated commercial area to prevent trucks from blocking traffic
• Containing parking to the main lot within the Village
• Forming a rideshare area for drop off and pickup
• Implementing a lower tenant density with fewer restaurants and bars
• Forming a buffer of “permit only” parking around the Village
• Billing Highland Park Village for people receiving parking tickets in surrounding streets
Nelson\Nygaard will spend two months studying the parking situation to update it, but neighbors requested they study the area through the holidays to account for seasonal spikes.
“We’re trying to capture efficiencies,” said Jackson Archer, senior associate at Nelson\Nygaard. “There’s only so much land use out there, only so much space for parking.”
Nelson\Nygaard will return to Highland Park residents in the spring once data collection is complete and a plan is created. The process will include hearing from community members, discussing with stakeholders such as the Town Council and Highland Park Village, as well as counting parking spots and interviewing shoppers to capture the issue.
“Highland Park Village is unique,” Archer said. “There’s a lot of shopping centers out there; there’s not very many that you can park in one place and walk to every single shop.”
Archer said the team will tailor the new parking model to build from industry practices to help the town and Village make decisions on how to proceed.
“When you’re talking about the demand of the tenants in Highland Park Village, you’re not considering the demand and the needs of the residents in the streets around it,” a woman at the community meeting said, followed by an applause from attendees. “There’s two sides to the demand.”