RALEIGH — The City Council is expected to vote today on a proposal that would give businesses in Glenwood South the same parking exemptions that merchants receive downtown.
The change would eliminate the requirement that smaller businesses lease parking spaces near their shops, a move that planners and business owners say will encourage more redevelopment in the popular entertainment district.
"This is really opening the door to allow Glenwood South to develop into a full-service entertainment and residential district," said Mitchell Silver, the city's planning director.
"The current parking requirements really have not helped Glenwood South flourish."
The proposed standards would include a parking exemption for a retailer's first 10,000 square feet. Currently, businesses under 10,000 square feet are required to lease parking spaces that cannot be set aside specifically for their patrons.
The change was requested by Niall Hanley, owner of the Hibernian Restaurant & Irish Pub and the Solas nightclub on Glenwood South.
Hanley said he pays $5,000 a month to lease parking spaces for the Hibernian. He said all he wants is a level playing field that allows development to occur on Glenwood South the same way it occurs downtown.
Silver said some properties along Glenwood South have had trouble finding tenants because of the difficulty in finding enough parking spaces to lease to meet the city's requirements. He said the city analyzed the current parking situation in Glenwood South and determined that the area has about 30 percent excess capacity.
The proposal before the council would rezone 20.2 acres so that the parking rules largely mirror those in place in the downtown area around Fayetteville Street. The city's Comprehensive Planning Committee voted 2-1 to recommend approval of the plan last month.
Among those who spoke against the proposed change was Phillip Poe, co-chairman of the Five Points Citizens Advisory Council. Poe said he is concerned that the rule change will cause more visitors to Glenwood South to park in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
In an effort to protect residents in the Glenwood-Brooklyn neighborhood just north of Glenwood South, the proposed rezoning would keep the parking requirements in place for a handful of properties along Peace Street, including the Mellow Mushroom restaurant.
Ted Van Dyk, a principal with New City Design Group, brought forward the proposed change for Hanley.
He said the change will enable many of the leased parking lots that are underused to become paid parking lots.
"The quirkiness of this Glenwood South plan is just laughable," he said. "There's a lot of confusion down there. The goal is to let the restaurateur stop paying for leased spots that are not theirs."
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