Members of the Budget and Economic Development Committee held an item that would allocate parking spaces of the Blount Street parking deck to workers in a nearby office tower and potentially hurt small businesses in the process.
The Blount Street parking deck was built in 2008 with the purpose of serving office workers from a soon-to-be-built office building and an apartment complex nearby. Due to the recession, those two projects were postponed, causing the parking deck to be open to the public for standard rates.
“To have to battle parking is not anything we envisioned,” Debbie Holt, owner of nearby Clyde Cooper’s BBQ said at the committee meeting.
That changed recently as both the apartment complex and office building were built, prompting the process of allocating those parking spots to the office workers during the day and the residents during the nights and weekends.
Discussion between committee members, which include Councilor Stephenson, Councilor Weeks, Councilor Crowder, and Mayor McFarlane, centered on addressing the needs of the small business owners, particularly on Saturdays.
Gregg Sandreuter, the managing partner of Beacon Partners, a commercial real estate company associated with the Skyhouse and Edison Apartments, suggested the possibility of leaving a floor of open parking spaces for the small businesses on weekends. The small business owners had expressed that just “4-5 parking spots” would mean nothing. 100-150 would be more appropriate.
It was referred to as a “guessing game” to see how many parking spots would be available on weekends, when the deck would be used exclusively for residents.
Of the 710 available parking spots in the Blount Street parking deck during the weekend, 404 are to be allocated for the residents of Skyhouse, while the other 306 are to be allocated to the residents of Edison Apartments. During the weekends, there is a gate that allows only those with an access card inside.
Mike Kennon of Raleigh’s public works department, speculated that the residents of Skyhouse would want to keep the gate as it made the parking deck more “exclusive.” He offered to discuss removing the gate with Skyhouse and Edison Apartments representatives but said it was unlikely he would come back with a “signed” paper in hand. Most likely, he would report back with feedback from the meetings.
Councilor Crowder expressed her disappointment with Sandreuter. “You should have had the foresight to realize this would happen.”
Tom Worth Jr., representing Debbie Holt, said that a group consisting of city employees, Sandreuter, and the small business owners had met this past Friday to discuss a possible arrangement to the parking situation. There was not just Saturday parking to consider, but parking on the weekdays as well.
Holt said business had been increasing and that she had “people scouting the streets for people giving tickets,” just so her customers could run in, pay for their food, and take off.
“It seems like the wheel has to turn just right for everybody to get space,” Holt said.