Short-term parking at West Ave comes with a price: Ticketed shopping?
UPDATE: A Tootsies spokeswoman points out that the new store has several free spaces in front of the store for short-term parking and free valet. Parking meters are located in other areas of the complex.
Houstonians who are not used to paying to park while shopping are reevaluating their plans at some of the city's trendiest mixed-use complexes.
The latest to unveil shiny parking meters: Upper Kirby's newest real estate land mine, West Ave. With the machines in operation along the privately-owned block inside the complex, picking up that altered Thierry Mugler gown at Tootsies comes with an added two-dollar price tag.
West Ave rep Missy Wyszynski explains that the 50 new parking meters are meant for short-term parking. "They're for people who want to run in and run out," she says, adding that other guests can rely on complimentary valet parking during the day (it's $5 after 5 p.m.) and a large self-park garage.
Metered guests chip in two dollars an hour for their prime parking spot. Wyszynski reports that parking meter violators will get a warning and receive a ticket following a second offense.
Not so, says CultureMap's own Shelby Hodge, who was unable to pay her meter on April 11 because the credit card mechanism was not functioning. The society scribe returned to her car to find a $30 ticket.
The West Ave tickets are issued not by the city of Houston, but the privately contracted Lanier Parking Solutions. If not paid within 28 days, the fine increases to $55, along with the threat, "Higher fees will be imposed on repeat offenders." Failure to pay the faulty fee results in the matter being turned over to a collection agency.
Wyszynski cites various mixed-use developments encountering success with the varied parking solution. Other Houston venues with similar setups include Sugar Land Town Square, Woodlands Market Street and CityCentre. Explains Stuart Rosenberg of Studio Communications, which represents CityCentre,
To be honest, it's to deal with potential traffic congestion. They have a lot of parking solutions there: free parking, valet, and the hotel has its own parking. Obviously people look for the first spot they can find on Town and Country Boulevard. It's really just to create an ease for people to get in and out, if they're picking up food or something from a store, compared to the people spending three hours at a movie. It's not a revenue opportunity — it's just trying to free up parking."