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Owner blames Durham parking meters for coffee shop's demise

Posted December 17, 2014

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— The owner of a Durham coffee shop has blamed the metered spaces in a nearby city parking lot for his decision to close the business last week.

"Since the city of Durham converted the parking lot across the street to paid-only, we have witnessed a decline in our business that we cannot sustain," owner Stephen DeCherney wrote on a sign posted on the doors of Market Street Coffee House.

The shop, at 714 Ninth St., closed sometime last week, about six months after city officials opened a 40-space lot on Ninth Street that charges $1 an hour to park.

"It does cut into how many customers they get because it's a deterrent," said Larry Wood, who represents the Ninth Street Merchants Association.

Still, Wood said, blaming the parking lot for having to close may not be fair.

"It's an easy thing to blame that rather than shifting your business to be competitive," he said, noting that DeCherney told him in an email that the shop had also been robbed twice recently.

Mark Ahrendsen, director of Durham's Transportation Department, said it was unfortunate that the coffee shop closed but said the metered parking lot is part of the long-term plan for Ninth Street.

"The city understands the concerns relative to this parking lot, but the decision to charge for parking was inclusive and meets the big-picture parking needs for this area," Ahrendsen said in a statement.

Between July and November, the city paid $34,375 to rent the lot but collected $3,820 in parking fees.

DeCherney didn't respond to requests for comment about the situation.

A new coffee shop and juice bar is scheduled to open in the space on Jan. 15.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • geraniumposey Dec 18, 2014

    What's a dollar an hour? Nothing, these days. The paid-parking lot is necessary because there is a new apt. complex going up on the street with hundreds of apts. Ninth St. must reserve parking for the retailers there.

  • disc golfing Dec 18, 2014

    View quoted thread

    They have recently put signs up stating that you will be towed, but I haven't seen any enforcement of it so far.
    I think it's funny that ever since the City took over the lot that it is always empty when I ride by there. The only cars I have ever seen in it during the weekdays are City owned vehicles.

  • LiveLifeToTheFullest Dec 18, 2014

    View quoted thread

    The toy store closed too? I was just there a couple months ago. I don't recall a sign like that, or I would not have went in.

  • Pepe Silvia Dec 18, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I treat myself to a nice cup of coffee about once, sometimes twice, a week at the local shop near my house.

    For my usual drink, its almost $5 a pop after tax, which is already a nice little splurge when you start thinking of it in terms of how much money I spend a month/year on something that is gone within 30 minutes. If I had to add $1 to that every time I'd be inclined to start reducing trips or stopping at a different spot.

  • 68_dodge_polara Dec 18, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Same here, if I don't find free parking I continue on my way. Anyone know if you can get towed for parking in the Harris Teeter parking lot if you don't go in to the Harris Teeter?

  • tbg0519 Dec 18, 2014

    I'm more interested in why the city is paying $8k/month to lease a parking lot that returns less than $1k/month. Unfortunately, you can't find the cronyism, b/c the LLC that owns the lot was formed in a state which does not require that the owners/partners be disclosed. Glad to see Durham taxpayer money being so wisely spent. Maybe WRAL should dig into that one, provided their owners are not vested in the deal too.

  • flyfish42 Dec 18, 2014

    View quoted thread

    So are you suggesting that they should charge a whole lot more to park there? Because if the city does not pay rent on the lot, the owner will develop it and there will be no parking there whatsoever.

  • nclgw Dec 18, 2014

    Perhaps the business owner could have looked at his business model and adapted/changed, but I know that when I go to Ninth Street I'm looking for free parking. Used to park in that lot when it was free...but no more. No added benefit to me from the city to pay to park in a lot that was free...and had beautiful trees to boot. I'll walk a bit and park for free...

  • Imma Annoid Dec 18, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Agreed. Someone should get fired. Typical.

  • russellanddiane Dec 18, 2014

    "Between July and November, the city paid $34,375 to rent the lot but collected $3,820 in parking fees."

    Now there's a great business model. City should get out of the way.