There’s nothing like a good fight over parking. Parking Lot No. 10, in fact. Who knew it had a name and number?
No. 10 is what drove me down to Ninth Street a few days ago: I wanted to see what all the latest scrimmaging was about involving the 40-or-so space, no-longer-free parking lot across from most of the shops with character and cool.
On the way in, on the Main Street side, I almost motored right through the “Biker Bar” headed to the same stretch of Ninth I was.
The Biker Bar, a trolley-car looking contraption where people pedal around Durham with a sober driver while they drink and sometimes yell and hold up traffic wherever they go.
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I looked up and almost had some froth in my face.
Undeterred, I aimed for No. 10, the marked pavement that sits directly across from the coffee shop that’s changed identities in the last 10 years more often than a toddler can count.
News on the latest coffee offering in a moment.
As for the parking lot, I sure didn’t park there. At $1 an hour. Except: I learned it’s free on the weekends. After I parked elsewhere. On a weekend.
Apparently most other people didn’t know about free Sundays either. There were maybe eight cars in the 40-or-so spaces.
Ninth Street itself was packed with parked vehicles, but Parking Lot No. 10 looked cursed. I myself have cursed in in that lot back when it was free and full all the time.
The big sign that says Durham, City of Medicine (and pay at the newfangled machine down the way), should scream out, FREE ON WEEKENDS. Simple. Somebody do that.
Word now is that a bunch of folks are parking over at the spiffy Harris-Teeter or Panera parking lots, and crossing the street to the chill side of Ninth. And cars are getting towed. Pricy parking error right there.
At the entrance to the Panera parking section, one sign on top of another saying the same thing warns folks that they are taking their car’s life into a tow truck operator’s calloused hands if they plan to park and stroll over to Ninth for a slice.
Somebody’s spying, and it ain’t the NSA.
My solution? Step No. 1 for No. 10: that company with the scary name, CPGRI Regency Erwin, LLC should quit charging the city $6,875 a month to lease No. 10, when it used to cost $3,000 a year before the property changed hands.
That’s Ninth Street robbery, I tell you. Why would the city sign that, anyway?
Memo to CPGRI Regency Erwin, LLC: Change your name, and kindly lower the monthly lease to $1,500, for an annual sum of $18,000. You can spare the change.
Let Ninth Street live, why don’t you?
Then, the city should lower the hourly fee to 50 cents. Two hours would cost a buck. I think most people, even those long-suffering Duke students, will pay that.
Call it a peace treaty to save Ninth.
And: that savored street now includes the new proprietor and his paying customers at 714 Ninth. The latest coffee destination: Ninth Street (that’s original) Coffee House & Juice Bar.
The place has a well-designed sign that says: “Eat, Drink, Study, Lounge.”
The owner, Lindsey Williams, is from New York and is a grandson of the legendary Sylvia Woods, of Sylvia’s Restaurant in the heart of Harlem. Sylvia’s, a favorite for 50 years of New Yorkers, all manner of celebrities, tourists, and lately, presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
One-time celebrity chef and caterer Lindsey Williams, who’s written a book on what he calls neo-soul Southern cooking, is right there on Ninth trying to make coffee, Danish and bagels perk up at 714.
I hear his smoothies rock. One’s called “Hijack.” The flavor isn’t even shown. That’s so Ninth.
I spoke with Williams as he lounged outside, puffing on an esteemed “My Father” cigar. I asked him about the parking wars.
Williams’ eyes said: “I’m from New York, man. You’re kidding, right?”
His mouth said: “I do see a lot of cars towed from ’cross the road.”
“That,” he said with a satisfied, soulful exhale, “is bad for business.”
Give the man another cigar.
You can reach Tom Gasparoli at email@example.com or 919-219-0042.