TRAVERSE CITY — Paid parking hours may increase in downtown Traverse City’s Larry C. Hardy Parking Deck.
For now, free parking is available in the Hardy Deck after 5 p.m. and on weekends from September through May. The Downtown Development Authority board on Feb. 21 voted to reduce that time frame to November through April. Hourly rates would stay at $1.
The cheaper parking was instituted to encourage parking in the Hardy Deck when it opened in July 2003.
“Since that time traffic has gone way up, and I think that’s due in part to the fact that more Traverse City (residents) are used to the deck and using it,” Downtown Development Authority executive director Rob Bacigalupi said. “We have greater and greater tourist traffic in those months I mentioned, September, October and May. Because we have greater traffic, there’s not a need to encourage people to use the deck. They’re already using it.”
The issue will be on the agenda for the Traverse City Commission’s March 17 meeting.
Jason Wilson is general manager of Sorellina, an Italian-themed restaurant across the street from the parking deck. He doesn’t think a rate change will affect business.
“People are going to come downtown to eat regardless,” Wilson said. “It’s probably a necessity for the city to raise money.”
Running Fit store manager Daniel Siderman said parking availability affects business – he notices a dip in business during downtown festivals when the parking deck is full.
He doesn’t expect a change in the Hardy Deck fee schedule to keep customers from visiting the store since most don’t know about the free, seasonal night and weekend parking.
“I don’t know if it’s going to affect us all that much, to be honest,” Siderman said. “Parking is always tough to do downtown.”