Architects unveil designs for Yakima downtown plaza; parking discussed

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Architects unveiled their designs for a new plaza in downtown Yakima. They showed off several options. Parking has been the most contentious issue surrounding the idea. KIMA learned what the consultants recommend.

A packed room filled council chambers. Everyone there for a first look.

"We were asking for options," said Mayor Micah Cawley. "And, we've got a variety of them."

Architects presented five designs. One for the parking lot north of Yakima Avenue. Four for the larger lot across from the Capitol Theatre.

They included water features, shady groves and built in-seating. Some even included roofing for a market or a covered place to park.

Pres Tuesley owns the Yakima Bindery a block away away from the south site.

"I think they bent over backwards to incorporate parking into that area."

Parking still is the issue. The designs add spaces to adjacent streets and other places within a block.

A north side plaza would sacrifice almost a hundred spots. The option architects favor on the south would take away about 50 spots.

"If it gets closed, the customers from businesses around that parking lot will then migrate down here and I will have no parking for my customers," said Tuesley.

Laura Rankin says a new plaza could be a game-changer for Yakima and her business, Gilbert Cellars.

"It can't but help increase foot traffic. I think it'll help keep people downtown longer."

Parking consultants hired by the city propose adding more spaces by replacing some parallel parking with angled spaces. They also recommend working with the Yakima Mall to open its lot to the public.

A long-term suggestion? Charging for parking to pay for new facilities or fixing old ones. Yakima used to have meters downtown, but did away with that almost two years ago.

None of this works for Liz Reyes, who says the plaza is a bad idea.

"I think that it's going to be used for a lot transients."

A sign that Yakima still has work to do to get everyone on board.

Of all the options presented, there is one for the south location that would actually increase parking. That is not one the architects favor. If you want to see the designs up close, there will be another presentation Tuesday night at the Seasons Performance Hall at 6:30p.m.