Downtown Rock Hill parking spaces to be reserved

Parking in downtown Rock Hill will be at a premium once a new apartment building goes up on East Main Street.

The City Council voted Monday to set aside 40 public parking spaces in the city’s parking lot on East White Street for residential parking. The spaces will serve those living in the apartment building under construction at 139 E. Main St., which adjoins the parking lot.

Spaces in the lot off East White Street – a total of 193 – also serve several businesses and offices on the block between East Main, East White and Caldwell streets, and Dave Lyle Boulevard.

Under the terms of the license agreement presented to the council, marked spaces will be closed to general parking between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays, those spaces can be used only by cars bearing the apartment’s residential parking stickers.

“The residents living there may have children, they will be carrying groceries, so they need to be relatively close by,” said David Lawrence, the city’s Knowledge Park development manager.

Some downtown businesses have expressed concerns over whether the reserved spaces will take up room currently used by customers. Under the city’s downtown parking management plan, most offices, shops and restaurants don’t have reserved spaces in public lots but pay a standard fee to the city for shared parking. Costs are based on the estimated number of spaces needed for a business based on its square footage and the kind of business involved.

The city will charge a $60 annual parking fee per space to the apartment developer for the reserved spaces, $2,400 in total. The proposed parking agreement is for 20 years, with no rate increases within the first five years.

Dottie France, executive of the Piedmont Regional Association of Realtors, has asked if the reserved spaces will mean a reduction in the $2,800 bill her organization pays the city each year, without a positive response.

“The question is whether that’s going to encourage businesses to come downtown or not,” France said.

Lawrence said his office doesn’t believe the reserved spaces will interfere with daily business customers because of the timing of the restrictions. Once the changes go into effect, the number of spaces available to the general public will drop from 152 to 106, but 146 spaces will be available during the “peak hours” of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, when the residential spaces will be open to the public.

“On weekends, we think it will be fine, because much of the businesses there are closed on weekends,” Lawrence said. “So you’re losing quite a bit of demand. The highest demand will be Monday through Friday.”

In addition to the reserved apartment parking spaces, the city will set aside two additional handicapped parking spaces in the White Street lot, bringing the total to six, which will bring parking into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Lawrence said. Another two loading spaces will be added for use by delivery trucks and moving vans, bringing that total to six, and two additional spaces will be limited to two-hour business parking.

The city will be responsible for adding signs and markings to the lot, but the developer will issue a limited number of parking stickers to residents and ill be responsible for enforcing the restriction, although Lawrence said the city may boot or tow violators.

The regulations will go into force once the apartment building is issued its certificate of occupancy.

Construction on the apartment building is scheduled to begin in June.

Bristow Marchant •  803-329-4062