With parking being one of the biggest complaints of shoppers in downtown Auburn, the City of Auburn has been looking for solutions. Many alternatives have been proposed, but one in particular has seemed to work the best.
On Friday, June 9, the city decided to test a valet service for the attendees of the Summernight Downtown Art Walk. It was so successful that the City Council passed a year-long contract to keep the valet service going. Auburn's Downtown Coordinator, Jessica Kohn, witnessed first-hand the success and impact the valet service had.
"With that event being such a success, the city decided they wanted to make it a permanent thing downtown," Kohn said.
Kohn said the service will allow shoppers to worry less about parking and spend more time downtown.
"I think merchants are really receptive to it," Kohn said. "It really is only going to benefit them, and it will hopefully bring more shoppers and diners downtown."
According to Kohn, the cars will be parked on the third floor of the Gay Street parking deck because those spots sit empty most days except for game day. The valet service will be able to fit 75 more cars on top of the deck.
"Parking has been the number one complaint from our Merchants Association because they feel they are losing customers," Kohn said. "There are certain people who just do not want to even attempt to come downtown because of parking. So the city has listened and is responding, and we are all very pleased with the progress they are making."
The city hopes to start construction on a new parking deck soon which will potentially add 300 parking spaces. Until then, the valet service will help keep more customers downtown.
"[The city] is very focused on revitalizing downtown and also investing in the area," Kohn said. "It means a lot to our Merchants Association that they have heard us and are responding. It is only going to make downtown that much better."