As part of a city-wide effort to renovate and improve all of New Haven’s parking garages, the Crown Street Garage has received a new paint job.
The floors of the garage were each assigned a specific color in an effort to help people remember and locate their floor. City Economic Development Administrator Matt Nemerson SOM ’81 underscored that these types of refurbishments not only improve the appearance of city property, but also advance the overall experience of visitors to the city and facilitate tourism.
“Data is showing that if you bring art of any sort into the garage atmosphere, people treat the garage better,” said David Panagore, acting executive director of Park New Haven, the city’s parking authority.
Park New Haven has begun a two-year program of extensive renovations that include fixing elevators, painting and cleaning facilities. Panagore said that they are endeavoring to ensure that the garages are safe, well lit and have easy access.
“The work in the Crown Street Garage was part of a cyclical renovation of all the major garages that the parking authority controls,” Nemerson said.
The garage’s guardrails, which sit at the head of each parking space in the building, are visible from the street, creating what Panagore termed “pop art.” The rails were painted using “safety colors,” which are designed to be very bright and highly visible. Standard guard rails are usually a drab, metallic color, said Jim Staniewicz, director of planning and engineering at Park New Haven, adding that the paint used in the Crown Street Garage is durable and lasts for 20 years.
Nemerson said that many garages around the world use this tactic of matching floors with colors to help visitors find their floor. He added that city garages also use symbols and numbers to help people locate their cars.
“You want people to remember all three ways, depending on what people are comfortable with,” said Nemerson.
Gloria Wilkins, facility supervisor for the Crown Street Garage, said that, since the renovations, she has noticed an improvement in the flow of customers in and out of the garage, as well as a decline in the number of complaints about garage access.
Both Panagore and Nemerson said they hope that the two-year program will help make New Haven a more tourist-friendly city.
The first stage of the program was to re-brand the New Haven parking authority. The organization’s new name, “Park New Haven,” its new logo, as well as the blue and white signs outside parking garages, have all been part of this re-branding. The second stage included physical renovations, including concrete resurfacing, building credit-card friendly pay stations and improving lighting fixtures.
Nemerson stressed that putting art in garages — whether in the form of poetry or museum artwork — is also critical as a means of increasing respect for the space. He added that, because the garage serves as a visitor’s first glimpse into New Haven, showcasing local art is critical to ensuring a positive tourist experience in the city.
Arriving in a city can be intimidating, said Nemerson, adding that it is the city’s job to make all markings and instructions as clear as possible. He went on the say that plans are in the works for way-finding maps to be placed around the city to increase foot traffic.
Park New Haven oversees a total of 22 parking garages and surface parking lots in New Haven.