"It's very tough sometimes to find a place to park, even for the employees as well as our customers," says downtown merchant Jamie Sykes.
"If I luck out, I probably would find a parking space, but the majority of the time I don't hold to that. I come down here expecting the worst," says customer Rodele Wynn.
City councilmembers are considering a contract with McLaurin Parking, one of the largest parking companies in the Southeast.
"They've been in this business now for 50 years. They've done it in Raleigh. They currently manage the Cape Fear Valley Medical Center's parking. They manage some in Charlotte," says chief development officer Ben Brown. "It will allow us to devote our time on other high-priority things to do."
McLaurin will look at other privately-owned parking lots in the city for possible additional spaces. It will also free up the city's resources, allowing leaders to get out of the parking business.
The parking contract is far from a done deal. At Monday night's city council meeting, members agreed to consider a contract and negotiate an agreement.