Lynchburg, VA- In the last ten years downtown Lynchburg has made progress toward revitalization. But, city developers are afraid the area is about to hit a road block on its climb to success. It's one of downtown's biggest problems: parking.
Recently the city hired an outside company to do a feasibility study on building a four story garage at the corner of Commerce and 12th streets. Wednesday night in a public meeting they revealed the price tag of that project, and discussed the reality of getting it done.
The city's parking problem may have good origins.
"We've seen tremendous success on all sectors," said Kent White, Director of Community Development.
But more businesses and residents downtown means a higher demand for parking.
"A great number of cities would envy our problem which is parking as a result of success," said White.
Although if you talk to residents and business owners, they'll tell you a different story.
"It makes for not a very business friendly parking environment," said Renee Wood, Owner of Gladiola Girls boutique on Main Street. Her business is struggling with employee parking.
"Although we have six employees, I've paid for three permits and we rotate those permits just because the expense is so exorbitant," said Wood.
For each permit, she says Gladiola Girls pays $432 a year. And besides the extra expense, the parking isn't very convenient.
"Even with the permit it doesn't mean you're going to get a parking spot," she said.
Other concerns people in downtown have are customers parking in residential spots, and residents parking in commercial spots. But their biggest fear is that limited parking will kill downtown's progress.
Folks agree something needs to be done. But the $6 million proposed garage, has the empty-pocketed city at a loss, hoping for some private sector intervention.
"We as a community have now got to figure out how we're going to manage our parking resources. With 25% of those resources held by the city and 75% by the public sector, we've got to continue to work in partnership," said White.
There were some ideas thrown around as to how the city could pay for the proposed garage. It was suggested that by starting to charge for on-street parking, and increasing the current price of both hour parking and permit fees, the city might be able to afford the new project.