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Posted on Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Want to reserve a downtown parking spot for Art Fair? Ann Arbor company now offers that option

By Ryan J. Stanton


The Liberty Square parking structure was filled to the roof on the first day of Art Fair in 2011.

Angela J. Cesere |

Don't want to deal with the hassle of trying to find a parking spot downtown during this year's Ann Arbor Art Fair? A local company is offering visitors a way around that problem.

Ann Arbor-based Park n Party, a provider of online parking reservations for sporting and community events, is offering fairgoers the opportunity to make reservations in Ann Arbor's downtown parking structures.

Company cofounder Taylor Bond said he's happy to be partnering with Republic Parking and the Downtown Development Authority to roll out the prepaid option.

"It makes it easier to come downtown," he said. "What people want more than anything else is not to have to worry about parking. And if you can go online, make your reservation, and roll up at any time of day and not have to worry about it, that's a relief for you."

Visitors who opt to make a reservation will pay the usual fee of $12 a day for Art Fair parking, plus a $5.60 convenience charge that goes to Park n Party.

The annual Art Fair, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to downtown Ann Arbor over the course of four days, runs July 18-21 this year.


The scene at the Ann Arbor Art Fair last July.

Ryan J. Stanton |

DDA officials are hoping that the ability to reserve parking spots in advance, as well as the July 12 opening of a new 711-space underground parking garage on Fifth Avenue, will help ease the usual Art Fair parking concerns.

The new garage — which can be entered off either northbound Division Street or southbound Fifth Avenue — is one of seven parking structures in which Park n Party will offer fairgoers a chance to reserve a spot.

The other structures are at Fourth and Washington, Ann and Ashley, Liberty Square, Fourth and William, Forest Avenue, and Maynard Street.

"Certainly we hope the Park n Party option gives folks peace of mind to at least know where they're going, and no matter how busy it gets, they're guaranteed a spot," said Republic Parking manager Art Low. "If we fill up, you've still got a guaranteed spot."

Park n Party's Art Fair partnership with the DDA and Republic Parking comes on the heels of an inaugural year in which the company gave University of Michigan football fans the opportunity to reserve parking spaces and tailgate spots in locations throughout town.

Following their success in Ann Arbor, Park n Party's founders say expansion plans are in the works for Detroit, East Lansing, Columbus, Ohio, and Madison, Wis.

The DDA is in charge of the city's public parking system and contracts with Republic Parking, a private company, for day-to-day management.


Artists from around the country will come to Ann Arbor to sell their works at the Art Fair.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Low said he hopes the Art Fair partnership is the start of what will become a continued relationship with Park n Party to allow parking reservations for other major events.

"What I want to do is see us start initially with Internet-based reservations for large events downtown," Low said. "Park n Party will be the provider as it relates to Art Fair, large events and football games, and things of that nature."

Eventually, Low said, reservations could be offered as a premium service to anyone who is coming to downtown Ann Arbor and doesn't want to worry about parking.

"It's the first time we're rolling it out," he said of the Art Fair test run, adding that he'll be happy if a couple hundred people use the parking reservation service during the four-day event.

For more information, visit

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Tue, Jul 17, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

It's all about $$$$$$$$$ people not common sense


Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 3:43 a.m.

What the heck is wrong with these people?! TAKE A BUS. They have designated park and ride places. Much cheaper than paying for parking ANYWHERE.

Will Warner

Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 9:20 a.m.

But the convenience of parking right downtown is more important to me than the cost.


Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

I can't handle "Republic Parking" and "Downtown Development Authority" in the same sentence. In the "Republic" of A2, there's no "Parking," there's a lot of so-called "Downtown Development," and there's even more "Authority" that squelches meaningful improvement in the aforementioned.


Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 11:22 a.m.

There is no parking? No development? All I see are parking garages and buildings being you come to Ann Arbor?

say it plain

Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 10:41 p.m. The ran a piece on this service recently I guess... Taylor Bond is an interesting character... I'm guessing there's a 'story' behind his getting the DDA and Republic Parking on board, but since mostly here at we get booster services, I'm not holding my breath for it to appear!


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

Seventeen sixty is a lot to lose on an unused ( broiling hot or rained out) parking space. I don't guess there's a refund policy?

say it plain

Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 10:42 p.m.

If 17.60 is a lot for you to lose, you're not really part of the target audience ;-)


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

brimble: >> The downtown garages fill for Art Fairs, no matter what. Given that, the most money made by the DDA comes with turnover -- charge three different people/cars the same $12 for the same space. This scheme appears to preclude that option > And it appears that the contractor gets the extra revenue per transaction. << It appears that the contractor get $5.60 for its services -- its value-adding contribution, one might say -- and the DDA get the $12. This is a problem? The net effect of this arrangement may be that fewer people get convenient parking. If someone reserves for the day and comes downtown at 3:00, that reserved space will have gone untenanted all day until then. (Presumably the folks who drive into the area and don't get a space in the garage will park farther out.) On the other hand, the added convenience may increase Art Fairs attendance, and people ready to shell out $17.60 may be just the folks the artists etc. want to see.


Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

Arborcomment, My earlier post had included the point -- unaccountably deleted by -- that DDA probably didn't lose $12 from each of three parkers, but only the hourly rates for such parkers, adding up to something like $12across the day. So your and Brimble's math would greatly overestimate the DDA "loss" from this plan. Unless DDA charges everyone who enters a parking garage during the Art Fairs a flat $12, which I assume is not the case. Correct me if I'm wrong. If my assumption is right that normal parking charges would apply, DDA essentially breaks even from this arrangement. Park N' Party gets its $5.60 per reservation, and its employees administer it.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 11:23 p.m.

Without specific details rm, the net effect could be lost revenue for the DDA (us). If I pay $17.50 to park on July 18th and roll in "anytime" (say 3:00), the DDA (us) has lost the opportunity to roll over that slot at least once for another 12 bucks - unless Park and Party overbooks during art fair - which would be entertaining to watch. So, using the "couple hundred" cited in the article as a potential starting point, the DDA (us) loses $9600 in revenue (based on one per slot) and Park and Party makes $4480 to tie up 200 spaces for four days.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

Why is this so wrong and it's okay when U of M does it?


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

The downtown garages fill for Art Fairs, no matter what. Given that, the most money made by the DDA comes with turnover -- charge three different people/cars the same $12 for the same space. This scheme appears to preclude that option. And it appears that the contractor gets the extra revenue per transaction. On the one hand, the DDA ought to be getting a kickback from the contractor. At the same time, that should be disclosed. But it becomes either that the DDA simply signed up for a bad deal, or that they are hiding the kickback.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.

I admire entrepreneurial spirit. But what I don't like is parking spaces I helped pay for sitting empty while a private company decides whether it has enough to meet the reservations it thinks it has. Entrepreneurial is someone living near downtown charging a stranger to park in his driveway. He owns his driveway. I'm not sure the city should be selling its parking like this at all.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Great idea. I like the idea of reducing parking uncertainty. A side benefit might be that people who don't want to pay more for parking will know that many spaces have been pre-booked. Hopefully these people will, instead, go straight to one of the Park n Ride lots and get on the bus.

Will Warner

Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.

"Ann Arbor-based Park n Party, a provider of online parking reservations for sporting and community events" What a fascinating business. I might even go to the art fair this year because of this effort to identify and meet a demand in the market place. I love this about free-enterprise—I can depend on the profit motive to stimulate people to offer any number of products and services that I can pick and choose among. A capitalist economy is like a fractal: over time, every little piece of it becomes elaborately nuanced and intricate as people find in it a way to profit from the next wrinkle. You go, Park n Party!


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

Thanks Will, I too am in agreement with the concept and wish more details on the arrangement were made public. Perhaps Ryan would like to do a follow up: 1) Ask DDA how this arrangement came about and when. 2) What was the deliberation process? 3) Where are the public records for it (contracts etc.)? 4) What is the authority of DDA to allow a private firm to reserve public parking spaces? 5) Explain the timing of this announcement - prime time to advertise the service with P and P, with little to no details. I really hope this is NOT some kind of "sweetheart deal" between a private company with connections in some way to DDA or someone who thinks they have the authority to reserve public parking spots in a public structure so a private firm can make $6.50 a slot.

Will Warner

Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 1:03 p.m.

northside: "You'll go to art fair this year because of how a garage charges for parking? LOL." No, I am more likely to go because the stress and uncertainty of parking is removed.

Will Warner

Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 1 p.m.

Arborcomment: I don't really know the details of the arrangement among all the parties--DDA, the City, Republic Parking and PnP. My point is that somebody was moved by the profit motive to identify and meet a demand in the market place, resulting in a convenience for me.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

Northside, I am uncertain where you pulled that chuckle out of. My point is the use of a public parking structure by a private firm without any renumeration to the city beyond what the general public will pay.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.

You'll go to art fair this year because of how a garage charges for parking? LOL.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

I detect a bit of nuance regarding capitalism? I'm all for "free enterprise" but using a public parking structure for a private venture (without any renumeration to the city?) doesn't quite pass the smell test. If they (DDA) were truly interested in a return, x number of parking spots could have been offered as available for this service, then others (including P and P) could have bid on the right to reserve them. The starting bid would be $12. Now that's free enterprise.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

How do they designate reserved spaces? How do you find "yours"? What stops people from parking in these spots?


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

There will probably be one section of parking that is for all of the reserved spots with someone standing in front of it to make sure you have the required prepaid pass.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 12:05 p.m.

So, if I get this straight, customers using Park and Party will reserve a spot all day in the structure, and "roll up any time of day" for their spot. Meanwhile, other fair goers will enter the structures, and drive past potentially row after row of "reserved" parking places and hunt for the open spot. DDA gets their 12 bucks, P and P gets their $6.50 and the general public gets the right to drive past rows of reserved spots in a public parking structure. I hope the cost for the riot police is paid for by P and P?


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

SEC, I did not write a "specific" parking spot. If P and P takes a reservation, then unless they employ valets to do the hunting, they better have a space "reserved" for the vehicle. And as the article states, you can "roll up anytime", it implies that there is just that. There may be a couple of variables I suppose: 1. If the parking lot is not at capacity - and during art fair, when does that happen? - so "rolling up anytime" would be possible. Or, 2. Folks with reservations are moved to the head of the line to get the next available spot. If number 2 is their option, it would be worth putting a camera nearby, the ensuing altercations would be a hit on YouTube.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

no one gets a specific parking spot no one will be driving by rows of "reserved" parking. major cities have done this for some time...I used it in Paris 2 years ago. the sky isn't falling.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 2:24 p.m.

You're missing the point. The general public gets the right to make a reservation. Pony up.


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

Oh the humanity! Could this day get any worse! :|


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 11:49 a.m.

Why give park and party the revenue? It seems the city/republic parking/dda, could easily provide this service themselves


Tue, Jul 10, 2012 : 11:39 a.m.

Its not free market. It is a private enterprise benefiting off of a pool of public goods


Mon, Jul 9, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Yes, and ... ? They probably could if they decided to, and they're choosing to do it this way for reasons not stated in the article, probably including the cost of administation of something like this. I love the free choice and free market that this represents. Brilliant!