Parking fees for the now-free Ninth Street parking lot won City Council approval Monday night, but collections won’t start until June.
Negotiations between city officials and the lot’s owner, CPGPI Regency Erwin LLC, in the past two weeks led to the lease date being put off from March 1 to let the owner finish pavement repairs before collecting rent, city Transportation Director Mark Ahrendsen said.
After June 1, the city starts paying CPGPI $6,875 a month to lease the 44-space lot and charging $1 an hour for parking during weekday business hours.
Ahrendensen said “pay stations,” rather than meters, will be installed in the Ninth Street lot, which will accept cash or credit cards and customers will be able to use cell phones to pay for extra time.
The city’s lease has a five-year term with options for two five-year extensions at rates to be determined. Besides paying monthly rent, the city is responsible for maintenance and “impositions,” such as property tax.
If the council had not approved the lease, the owner had said the land probably would be developed. CPGPI, which bought the lot and several adjoining properties – including the new Harris Teeter supermarket land, in 2012, initially planned to put a branch bank in the parking lot space.
Ninth Street merchants and fans of the popular business district had feared loss of parking and objected to the city’s charging fees. Ahrendsen said city officials will talk with merchants during the next few months on possible measures to relieve parking congestion, including ways to provide employee parking that leave more room for the shopping public.
The city also plans to institute two-hour limits for on-street parking in the Ninth Street area, which currently has three-hour limits or no limits. On-street parking fees are under consideration for a future date, probably at the same time they are imposed downtown.