FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Businesses in Fort Worth’s Cultural District have been feeling the parking pinch for the past year and a half, and are ready for some changes.
Since the city began charging to park at Will Rogers Memorial Coliseum in May of 2010, many businesses and museums have seen attendance and revenue drop.
The city says it’s not trying to make money by charging for parking, instead it’s trying to make up the money spent in building a parking garage next to the remodeled Museum of Science and History.
The $31 million garage addressed a much needed parking problem in the cultural district.
At Z’s Café inside the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, employees stay busy making catered lunches. But even during the noon hour, many of the tables are empty.
“My business has dropped considerably, we’re down about 80 percent in the café,” says owner Carlo Capua.
Capua says high parking fees have driven customers away. “Nobody wants to come pay $5 for an $8 lunch,” says Capua.
While Z’s Café validates parking for all of its customers, Capua says the hassle alone has kept some of them from coming back.
“It’s great when we have gun shows and there are a lot of people here it’s definitely helped solve that need but for the other 320 days a year, we’re losing people here,” says Capua.
“We are well aware as a city council that the nonprofits, the museums and the restaurants have suffered attendance because of the prescribed parking fee,” says Fort Worth City Councilman Dennis Shingleton.
Capua and others have proposed a graduated rate structure that would allow visitors who stay less than 75 minutes to park for free.
The city council is considering a similar system to fix the problem.
“We’re going to put in place a variable parking fee much like the airport, depending upon the amount of time that you’re there,” says Shingleton.
The variable parking system should be in place by next fall.