A year after the downtown parking garage first opened, city officials say they're having problems keeping several spots filled with vehicles, prompting them to make changes.
When the City of Grand Junction teamed up with several private businesses to build a parking garage on Rood Avenue, they had hoped the structure would be a great asset to downtown workers and visitors alike. Now that it has been open for a year, officials say in some respects, it is.
"Overall the garage usage is over seventy percent," said Jodi Romero, Financial Operations Manager for the City of Grand Junction.
Romero says the 44 percent of the garage the private businesses own, and the covered spots the city leases out are seeing 100 percent usage. But when it comes to the public parking on the main level, that number is significantly down.
"The usage of that has ranged somewhere around ten percent," said Romero. "We are looking at that to see how we can encourage folks to come use them."
Some downtown visitors say it's just easier to park closer to the places they need to go.
"I have never used it," said Benj TurLouw. "I've always found a parking place downtown without it."
In some cases, officials have found people didn't even know they could park there.
"Particularly in the beginning, people didn't realize it was a public parking garage," said Romero.
To help fix that problem, new signs have been posted to make it clear the public can use it. But city officials say it will take a lot more than that to fill the empty spots -- and with the high demand for leased spots, some of the 126 hourly spots may disappear.
"We're looking at some shorter term options for folks that may want a month here or there," said Romero. "We looking at those for fifty dollars a month."
And while they may have to change public spots into those leased spots, city officials say have seen signs of promise that visitors are starting to see the value of the garage.
"I know for the Parade of Lights the garage was completely full," said Romero.
And they say they remain confident they'll be able to boost usage over the next year.
"We'll continue to look at it," said Romero. "It's a work in progress."
Officials say they have also had a rough time filling the leased uncovered parking spots. To help increase their use, City Council approved a rate decrease from $50 a month to $30 a month during their meeting Monday night.
City officials want to remind downtown visitors that between now and New Year's Day, public parking in the garage is free.
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