Council plans free Renaissance ramp parking

Parking in the downtown Renaissance ramp will become free, starting April 1, under a plan approved by the Minot City Council Monday.

The council elected for free parking for all in looking at using the Renaissance ramp to handle employee parking once move-in at the new city hall begins in mid-April. The city expects to have 70-80 city employees who will be working in the new city hall.

The Renaissance structure has about 188 parking spots, according to the city. Monthly pass holders currently range from 65 to 75 cars for the two downtown ramps. Short-term rates also are available.

The city generated only $37,462 from the Renaissance ramp’s paid parking last year, said council member Carrie Evans.

“I think definitely employees who are moving over to city hall should have free parking, at least until we figure out some alternatives. I think for administrative reasons and efficiency reasons, just making it free with a section for employees is what makes the most sense to me,” she said.

City Manager Harold Stewart and Finance Director David Lakefield spoke of the likelihood that free parking in a paid parking structure would cause city employees to incur income-tax liability for this fringe benefit. That liability would go away if the parking garage is free to all.

“There’s a couple of other things that we’ll have to address as a result of this,” Lakefield said. “We budgeted revenue from the parking to offset the cost of maintaining the parking ramps. So if we’re going to forgo that revenue, we’ll have to have another revenue source to pay for the upkeep with that.”

Another potential consequence is people using the Central ramp will migrate to the Renaissance ramp to get the free parking, thus reducing the revenue at the Central ramp. Also, people with prepaid parking passes would be entitled to refunds, Lakefield said. Additionally, it raises the matter of how full the Renaissance ramp might get.

“Currently, it is not fully utilized,” Lakefield said. Construction on the nearby Big M building has been a factor, discouraging use of the middle section because of access, he said.

“The initial intent of those parking garages was to have people frequenting and residing and shopping downtown and not have to fight for parking. So we certainly want to be true to that, but we’ll see what it looks like after this all happens,” Evans said.

The council decided to postpone seeking a developer to construct housing above the two city-owned parking ramps. Architectural students with North Dakota State University are developing an urban design plan for the downtown, and council members want to see what they come up with before seeking developer proposals. The students are to release their designs May 3.

The city came to own the parking ramps at 205 1st St. SW (Renaissance) and 5 1st St. SW (Central) during legal actions against the Cypress Development, which concluded in 2022. At the time the parking garages were constructed in 2015-16, the plan was to develop up to five levels of apartments above the ramps, with commercial development around the ground-level perimeter.


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