What's the Big Deal About a Parking Lot?

A couple weeks ago, we posted photos of our new parking lot on Instagram. Now, it may look like just an ordinary parking lot. But let me tell you - this parking lot is a BIG DEAL. Sit back, relax, grab some popcorn, and let me share with you the story of Cream & Amber’s parking lot (I promise, it’s not as boring as it sounds. Or maybe it is. You’ll just have to risk it.)

We began looking for a space for Cream & Amber in Hopkins a little over a year ago. There were not many spaces available on Mainstreet, and we looked at one other spot in addition to the building we ended up in at 1605 Mainstreet. It seemed like the building had exactly what we wanted - it was an old house, it had some history, and it had some character. It felt like a perfect place for a bookstore, and we started envisioning a comfortable, cozy space that felt like home.

But it wasn’t what the building did have that was an issue, it was what it didn’t have - dedicated, off-street parking spaces. You might be thinking, there are a lot of businesses in Hopkins that don’t have dedicated parking spaces. And you would be correct! However, all of those businesses are on the other side of Mainstreet. In Hopkins, section 550 of the Hopkins city code states that any businesses in a B-3 district need to provide off-street parking as outlined in the code, and any businesses in a B-2 district do not need to provide off-street parking. Guess where Cream & Amber is? A B-3 district.

This discovery kicked off about 5-6 months of discussion with our potential landlord and the city. We talked about potential solutions, how we could make it easier to reach the required number of parking spaces, and whether or not we could even afford to do it. Our landlord, Barbara Zadeh, did quite a bit of work in bringing a new measure to the city council that would allow us to count some of the street parking in front of our business toward our overall number of spots. She also initiated discussions with the owner of the neighboring building to see if we could utilize some of the extra space they had for parking.

This got us to roughly January/February, and we finally got the parking numbers to align, we got plans nailed down, and we were able to move forward with signing a lease. Our long journey ended a couple weeks ago when the asphalt guys came and made the parking lot a reality. Barbara’s work with the city and the building next door helped us quite a bit with getting the parking we needed, and we now have more than the required number of parking spaces (for our future expansion, maybe?). So now you can see why we are so excited to have this long journey complete!

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I’ll leave you with this puzzle: how many parking spots were we required to put in? Here’s what the situation looks like in word problem form (teachers, if you need a real life math problem for your next quiz, here you go):

Kacey and Katie are opening a bookstore/craft beer bar. In order to get a liquor license, they must be classified as a restaurant with at least 25 seats. For restaurants, the city requires 1 parking space for every 3 seats. They also need 1 parking space for every 250 square feet of upper level office space, which measures a total of 960 square feet. With the new measure passed by the city, they are also given credit for the following:

  • 2 on-street parking spaces

  • 1 parking space because they will put in a bike rack with space for 5 bikes

  • 2 parking spaces because they are within 1/4 mile of a transit stop

How many parking spaces is Cream & Amber required to have?