RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Some Shockoe Bottom business owners who were originally outraged after free parking changed to paid parking near their buildings now feel differently. A pilot program started by the Shockoe Alliance and the Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association has been going on for four months.
The pay to park stations were activated in August. Since then, the owner of Kulture Smoke and Vape Downtown Evan Matthews said he’s seen an increase in business. The result is opposite of what he thought would happen.
“It was kind of a shock. One day you show up and there’s meters everywhere,” he described his feelings in August when he and other business owners saw pay to park meters being activated in areas like North 18th Street.
Matthews and the owner of Dave’s Barber Shop, Kelvin Allen, told 8News in August they thought paid parking would deter customers.
“They didn’t ask anybody’s opinion. They don’t ever come to business owners, or building owners, property owners, anything like that. They just do whatever they decide they’re going to do,” Matthews said about the organizations that started the program.
But now, Matthews said the paid parking pilot program has been great.
He said his business has grown around 15% to 25% since the meters were activated in August.
The pilot program originally began because the Shockoe Alliance and Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association thought paid parking may prevent people from continuously leaving their cars in spaces needed by residents and employees.
Matthews said things are different now.
“You can park. It’s easy to jump in and jump out. The meter system that’s there, that system, that company, it’s really, really inexpensive to park,” he said.
The only downside, Matthews said, is that residents and employees can’t get parking passes. Now, he’s having to add parking to his budget.
“What I’m having to do now is just tell them to get the app and register and just turn everything in at the end of the month and I’ll just have to reimburse them,” Matthews said about his employees.
Matthews said he hopes paid parking will remain in Shockoe Bottom.
The Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association plans to have a meeting on Jan. 17 to decide whether to keep paid parking permanently.