Anyone who shops or dines at Rice Village regularly knows that parking is an issue. Now, officials are trying to to make the situation a little more bearable — though it's likely to cost you a little more for a prime space.
Beginning in February, storefront parking on streets in the heart of the Village —within the area bordered by Kirby Drive, Morningside Drive, Rice Boulevard, and University Boulevard — will be metered. Rates will be $1 for the first hour with payment by credit or debit card and the parking rules will enforced at all hours of the day and night.
Parking in the retail property’s central parking garage and rooftop parking area will be free for up to two hours (no validation is necessary). Officials for the Rice Village District and Lamesa Properties say the new plan will increase the number of free parking spaces in the area by 36 percent and the metered option will ensure turnover of spaces in front of stores.
“By optimizing the location and management of Rice Village’s free and paid parking areas, we have created convenient and cost-effective parking solutions for those looking to shop at a particular store as well as for those looking to shop, dine and stay for an extended period of time,” Jerry Marcus, president of The Parking Advisory Group and a consultant on the revamped parking, said in a statement.
Uniformed "parking ambassadors" will roam the area to assist shoppers with the operation of meters and additional signage will be installed to direct drivers to the garage and rooftop parking areas. A portion of income from the meters will benefit a community SPARK Park at nearby Roberts Elementary School and the Poe Elementary School PTO.
The parking changes come amid a multi-million dollar renovation and rebranding of the venerable shopping and dining district as such popular new tenants as Shake Shack and Hopdoddy make plans to open this year. Changes include updated exteriors, outdoor seating, sidewalk improvements to make the area more pedestrian friendly, and art projects.
Houston graffiti artist GONZO247 has painted a 30-foot-wide, 8-feet-tall mural and a modernist-looking on a building at Morningside Drive and Origami-based owl by sculpture artist Nathan Mabry is planned on Kelvin Drive just north of University Boulevard in tribute to the mascot of nearby Rice University.