City leaders in favor of replacing popular parking lot with town plaza

YAKIMA, Wash.-- Yakima leaders have big plans to change the downtown landscape. They include getting rid of the Millennium Plaza parking lot. Where will the cars ago?

Millennium Plaza is home to thousands of cars a day.

"That parking lot supports a lot of people, a lot of businesses," Gabbie Schweers, who opposes the plan said.

It's a hub of downtown surrounded by businesses, but Yakima City Council decided it could be gone. Council met to review the Downtown Master Plan.

"For so many years we've sat here and kind of just have done nothing and so they are taking the initiative and they're moving forward," local business and property owner Joe Mann said.

All but two council members support doing away with the Millennium Plaza parking lot to add a town plaza instead. This was the most controversial portion of the Downtown Master Plan due to the lost parking. To make up for it, other parking would be added around town, but the spots wouldn't be as close. Downtown business owner Joe Mann is in favor of adding the town plaza.

"If the whole community is looking at downtown as the place to go for all the activities, I mean that'll just be super cool," Mann said.

Others believe removing the parking lot will make it harder to visit downtown.

"Taking that away means for everyone that is going to be a longer walk," Schweers said. "Now what that says to me is that the older people that love to come to things at the Capital Theater will no longer be able to."

Replacement spots would be greater than the number originally in the lot, but they will be spread out in the neighboring blocks.

"I think there's a solution to the parking, you know a lot of times our parking lots are half empty, not even half empty," Mann said.

Other initial changes include adding a green median down Yakima Avenue between Naches Avenue and Front Street. The first steps in knowing what our leaders in Yakima will push for to improve the city.

City Council discussed other development issues during the study session.

  • Putting a plaza in place of Millenium Park lot: majority in favor.
  • Moving 220 parking spaces from Millenium Park lot to 300 throughout downtown: majority in favor, but asked consultants for more options than the one they provided.
  • Doing a study on a Public Market around Front Street and Chestnut: majority in favor.
  • Adding a green median down Yakima Avenue: majority in favor.
  • Yakima Avenue trolley, one lane each way, and bike lanes will be discussed at a later date.