parking problems

Brent Finnegan -- January 16th, 2007

The Downtown Renaissance is holding their first quarterly meeting about issues downtown on Thursday (which also happens to be when OrangeBand and hburgnews are holding our first local discussion group). This time it’s about parking, which has been discussed before.

There are business owners that have said, “If a person can’t afford 25 cents for the meter, they can’t afford to shop downtown.” And other people have said that there’s already too much parking downtown, and not enough parks. Personally, I think Harrisonburg residents have been pretty fortunate not to have a bunch of privatized pay garages and lots like Charlottesville does. However, I do think it’s a shame that Gus Floros tore down the old Virginia Theater on Main Street to make room for another lot.

On a related note, yesterday WSVA ran a story on Downtown 56’s parking woes:

…The owners of Downtown 56 and Tini’s Lounge have requested to lease up to 30-parking spaces in the Rockingham County Government Center lot. Current parking at the former Whetsel Seed Company is not enough to accommodate both staff and patrons [and that doesn’t even include the people who live in that building]…

Well, yeah. It used to be a warehouse, so parking wasn’t really a consideration back then. I’ve seen people parking in that lot and walking over to Tini’s anyway… Here’s a thought: How about they offer the BoS free beers in exchange for free parking?


2 Responses to “parking problems”

  1. Del Marvel says:

    Why would you put a retail business in that location without taking care of the parking situation first? It’s a very cool renovation, but I’ve been wondering about that spot since it was announced. There is no legal parking anywhere near there.

  2. Wes says:

    I grew up in Harrisonburg and although it’s been a few years since I’ve been back, I have to say, the only parking “problem” downtown is too much parking. While I was impressed by the revitiliaztion of business and the cleanliness of the streets and sidewalks, there are still issues facing Harrisonburg’s downtown that have to be resolved before it’s going to see the success that small towns’ Main Streets such as Charlottesville and Staunton have seen.
    For one, local developers have not only demolished the Virginia Theater, but numerous other questionably historic structures within blocks of the Court House have been destroyed by the city and the universities, most to make way for additional parking.
    The problem isn’t just poor planning, the problem is also low real estate value. These buildings along Main Street serving as empty parking lots are worth more as vacant long-term investments to these people than they would have been as potential apartments, condos, artist lofts, or dorms.
    Confounding this issue is the suburban-style development and sprawl that has been taking place and dominating the Harrisonburg way-of-life since the 70’s and 80’s. Valley residents have abandoned the idea of a gridded city and an urban lifestyle and opted to rely on a car to take them from place to place and assume there will be a parking place within twenty feet of the door. Aside from college students, transplants, and a handful of nostalgic lifers in Harrisonburg, very few people can tolerate the notion of parking in a garage and walking several blocks. Even if it means they can enjoy multiple venues in one evening, they want their car to be idling in a strip-mall parking lot ready to go.

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