Dressing up the ‘beast’: City tackles monster garage

The city of Dayton’s “beast” of a parking garage by the convention center will be getting upgrades to make it more attractive and user friendly in anticipation that it will be more heavily used because of new downtown investments.

Dayton’s transportation center garage has 1,405 spaces and primarily serves the Crown Plaza Dayton hotel and the Dayton Convention Center, which it connects to via a skywalk.

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But downtown’s largest garage typically operates at 25 percent capacity weekdays when there are not special events, and it is used even less during weekends that lack major events, according to a parking study.

That, however, may be about to change since the new $5 million Levitt Pavilion Dayton is being constructed across the street at Dave Hall Plaza, which is expected to attract 100,000 people or more annually to its concerts, starting next year.

Developers also plan to rehab and reuse the Dayton Arcade, located a short walk away, and the Centre City Building is expected to be converted into new apartments, which is even closer to the garage.

The garage needs signage and other improvements because it is “impossible” to figure out where to enter, said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.

“I am excited we are doing some of this, because this parking garage is a beast — it’s just so enormous and how we really dress it … is really important,” she said.

Dayton commissioners approved spending $15,000 to put a mural on the west-facing wall of the transportation garage, which faces the Levitt Pavilion.

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The mural, expected to be at least 400 square feet in size and will have a music theme, will be installed with the assistance of the Dayton Visual Arts Center.

One mural already has been installed on the south facing wall on 5th Street, which will get new lighting so it can be seen at night.

The mural is one of a variety of improvements to the transportation garage planned by the city.

The garage, built in 1973, has been widely criticized for being confusing to motorists because of a lack of signage and also for looking glum and uninviting. The center takes up most of two city blocks.

The city has installed new street trees and planters in and around the garage and added colorful new lighting.

The garage is getting LED lights that are brighter and more efficient, and the city plans to install new wall pack lighting to better illuminate Fifth Street. New signage is intended to make it easier for motorists to navigate, and light improvements are planned for the entrance.

The garage has five upper floors and stretches from East Fourth Street all the way down to Stone Street, which turns into Sixth Street.

The city has proposed adding vinyl banners to advertise the garage and and new paint and pedestrian wayfinding, officials said.

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