City revamping management of parking operations

New parking meters—and higher fees—are likely as a result of Indianapolis’ efforts to revamp management of
its parking operations to generate additional revenue for street and sidewalk repairs.

The
city is set to release requests for qualifications from private operators interested in entering a long-term agreement to
manage parking. The final deal should net the city tens of millions of dollars, said Michael Huber, director
of the Mayor’s Office of Enterprise Development.

Huber declined to provide an exact date
for the release of the proposals but said it would be “soon.”

“We’re trying to create a
more efficient parking system that manages all of the downtown parking assets,” he said. “Many of the garages,
lots and certainly the meters could be more efficiently managed by one team.”

Indianapolis currently operates
a hybrid model, in which locally based Denison Parking handles meter enforcement, while city employees handle meter maintenance
and coin collection.

The Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board operates the Virginia Avenue parking garage
and the surface lots where Market Square Arena once stood. And REI Investments runs the Circle Block garage near the Conrad
Indianapolis hotel.

Under the proposal, management of the city’s 4,000 metered parking spaces and 10,000 off-street
spaces would be wrapped into a single, long-term lease.

Huber also declined to divulge the expected length of
a lease said it would be long enough for the chosen operator to recoup its investment in new parking meters it would install
as part of the agreement.

Multi-space meters that accept credit-card payments and a variable rate structure
likely will be part of the deal, which makes sense to Michael Simmons, co-founder and CEO of Indianapolis-based T2 Systems.
The company makes software to manage the enforcement and collection of parking violations, including in Indianapolis. 

“The city’s meter infrastructure is in need of a significant upgrade,” he said. “Finding
an outside entity who is willing to provide that upgrade, for a concession, is similar to what a number of cities are looking
at right now."

Indeed, Chicago netted more than $1 billion in 2008 by leasing its 36,000 parking meters to
a private firm for 75 years.

IBJ reported in July that the city was considering several options for modernizing
its parking meters and generating more revenue from parking. At the time, city leaders were evaluating proposals from firms
interested in handling parking meter management.

Parking meters already add more than $3 million per year to city coffers.
One potential bidder told the city this summer that it could double or triple that—or generate a lump sum payment of
at least $100 million through a long-term lease.

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