Low supply, high demand — Asheville’s downtown businesses may prefer that economic situation for their own wares, but not for parking. Members of the Asheville Downtown Association and Downtown Commission have long advocated for more spaces in the heart of the city to meet their need for affordable employee parking.
Now, the city of Asheville has announced a new monthly parking program to help satisfy that demand through a lot at 50 Asheland Ave. Slated to open on Saturday, Sept. 1, the lot will offer 100 new spaces with 24/7 access at $70 per month.
Meghan Rogers, executive director of the Asheville Downtown Association, welcomes the additional capacity. She says that the lack of parking creates issues for downtown employees, as well as anyone who drives to downtown Asheville for their everyday needs.
“Our members have consistently identified a need for parking in downtown as one of their top concerns for at least 10 years,” Rogers says. She also points to last year’s Downtown Census survey, conducted in partnership with the Downtown Commission’s Local Living Economy Subcommittee, which found that 33 percent of business owners had their employees park at on-street meters.
“This is not ideal for a couple of reasons: One, it puts the employee at risk for parking tickets if they are unable to continuously feed the meter,” Rogers explains. “[The second is that] it doesn’t allow for necessary turnover of the parking spot, which is helpful for businesses.”
Employees who could find street parking, however, were nearly matched by those with less luck. In the same survey, another 32 percent of respondents answered the question of “Where do your employees park?” with “They can’t find parking; this is a common complaint.”
For the next couple of years, at least, downtown businesses will have another option. The city of Asheville will lease 50 Asheland from its current owner, the Harold A. Talbert Jr. Revocable Living Trust, with an opportunity to purchase the property after the two-year lease term if the project proves successful. Not including insurance or site maintenance such as new lighting and repainted lines, the city will pay approximately $5,833 per month for the lot.
Angela Bausola, manager at Ben’s Tune Up at 195 Hilliard Ave., spoke favorably about the long-term parking program and its future in Asheville. “It [parking] is a real issue for sure. … I think [the lot is] going to be great for this side of Asheville.”
A small portion of the lot will also be used to stage construction for the renovation of the nearby ART station at 49 Coxe Ave., which will begin in early 2019. That project will include platform improvements, as well as a restroom expansion that will add baby-changing tables and multiple new stalls. New solar panels will help power the facility.
Those interested in renting a parking space can contact Parking Services at 828-259-5792. Dana Frankel, downtown development specialist with the city, notes that there is currently interest in over 80 of the 100 available spaces. Potential monthly parkers will be contacted shortly before the lot becomes operational for payment information and to distribute hang tags.