Local News

Durham merchants keep searching for parking solution on Ninth Street

Posted July 27, 2015 6:49 p.m. EDT

— An effort to turn a paid lot along Ninth Street, a popular retail area in Durham, into free parking has failed. So, some area merchants are trying to offset the cost of parking for their customers.

The city leased the lot a year ago and began charging people $1 an hour to park there. Since then, however, use of the lot has steadily declined, and city officials said Monday that they expect to lose at least $39,500 a year on the deal.

Some area merchants say neighborhood groups are boycotting the lot, and their businesses have suffered from a lack of traffic.

"Most of the merchants are losing money because of the parking lot," said Sherry Clayton, owner of Wavelengths salon.

Clayton was among several merchants who banded together this summer to pay part of the city's lease on the lot and make it free to park there again, but they couldn't come up with enough money.

"It's not my responsibility to pay for parking," said Ziad Lobbad, who owns a pizzeria on Ninth Street.

Lobbad said customers will get used to the parking fee over time. "I think a dollar an hour is not a big deal."

Clayton and others, however, have started deducting the cost of parking from customers' bills.

"Some of our clients may be here three hours," she said. "We take it off of their bill when they come in here."

On-street parking remains free, but the city enforces a two-hour limit on spaces, raising the fine this year for staying too long from $10 to $20. Those who try to park at the nearby Shops at Erwin Mill complex risk being towed.