Mallory Squibb, owner of Squibb Coffee and Wine Bar on 955 Wealthy St. SE, said her business has never had a problem with parking until the meters went live. Courtesy Rachel Liv
The city of Grand Rapids last week introduced hundreds of metered parking stations to Wealthy and Cherry streets, where previously, street parking was free.
The meters went into effect Oct. 8. Mobile GR Director Josh Naramore said the move was the latest in the city’s three-year plan to further manage on-street parking, not just in downtown, but in the outlying business districts, as well.
The city originally intended to roll out the metered parking early this summer, but after pushback from residents and businesses who thought the process was moving too fast, the city delayed it until August and later until after ArtPrize.
Naramore cited the increased business activity of the Cherry and Wealthy street corridors as the reason for the meter change and added the city intends to maintain a minimum 15 percent parking availability for these areas.
“Cherry Street and Wealthy have experienced a tremendous amount of growth,” Naramore said. “If you go there during the day, you can’t find parking. We’ve gotten complaints from residents and people there who say they can’t find parking.”
But some businesses in the area aren’t warming up to the idea. Mallory Squibb, owner of Squibb Coffee and Wine Bar on 955 Wealthy St. SE, said her business has never had a problem with parking until the meters went live.
“We’ve never really had an issue with parking, and that’s mainly why we chose this spot,” she said. “And now people are concerned that they’re going to get ticketed.”
Squibb said visitors to her shop are usually an even mix of those who pop in for five minutes to those who stay for a couple of hours, and customers said they’ve always been able to find available parking.
Jason Spaulding, co-owner of Brewery Vivant on 925 Cherry St. SE, had mixed feelings about the new parking setup.
“Personally, I am not a fan of them,” Spaulding said. “I do, however, realize that they could have some benefit for some retail stores versus a restaurant like us, as they keep people from parking all day.”
Spaulding also said because Brewery Vivant already owns a large parking lot that supports the surrounding area, it will be forced to come up with its own regulatory system for that lot as drivers will park their cars there to avoid the on-street meters.
“We have seen this change drastically already this week as the meters went live,” he said.
Squibb added the placement of the new meters has led to confusion over where people are supposed to park, citing a conversation she had with a Wealthy Street resident who can now no longer park in front of his house.
But Naramore said the city is working on establishing residential parking permits for Wealthy Street, as well as other areas including Lake Drive and Alabama Avenue to ensure residents have a place to park.
“Part of this has been a learning process with the city to make sure we’re not only looking out for the businesses but also the residents,” Naramore said. “This was the first time we’ve really taken a different approach for why we meter parking. It’s not just to raise money; it’s to ensure we support the local businesses. It’s the beginning of a conversation. We’ve been working on it for easily two months.”
The city also added metered parking to the West Side of Grand Rapids along Bridge Street and Seward Avenue, as well as extended the number of meters on Michigan Street.
Naramore encouraged any residents or business owners with parking concerns to contact him at email@example.com.