I know that sounds counterintuitive, but it is true. When parking is limited, there has to be a blend of daytime and nighttime businesses because those businesses must share the same parking lots – i.e., a daytime business uses a parking lot during the day and the nighttime bar-restaurant uses the same lot at night. There is not enough required parking for both businesses to be open at the same time. Thus, the property owner – the landlord – is forced to balance the nighttime/daytime business use because they have no other choice.
When additional parking is added, the daytime/nighttime business mix is thrown out of balance since business property owners charge higher rents for nighttime use. Thus, business property owners are financially incented to replace their daytime businesses with nighttime bars and bar-restaurant businesses.
Want proof? Look no further than the debacle that was created on Lowest Greenville Avenue (the portion of Greenville Avenue that is south of Belmont Avenue) that we are painstakingly trying to clean up today. Fifteen to twenty years ago, there was a good mix of vibrant daytime and nighttime businesses. Then residential lots in the surrounding neighborhoods were rezoned into parking lots and the daytime businesses were quickly replaced by bars and bar/restaurants, beginning the downward spiral of a once-vital area.
So you think this is only a Lower Greenville Avenue problem? Think again! Take a close look at the proposed parking garage on Paulus behind the Lakewood Theater. Current zoning allows a surface level parking lot to be built, but the land owner is requesting a zoning change that adds 35 extra parking spaces on a new lower level. With valet service, that easily increases to 50-55 spaces. Current nighttime bar-restaurant parking code requires one parking space per 100 square feet of business space. That means this additional parking level will allow 5000-5500 square feet of new nighttime bar and bar/restaurant space. Adding this much new business does not make the parking situation better.
The “Lowest Greenville Avenue Parking Experience” has proven that an over-saturation of nighttime bar/restaurant business will quickly lead to additional traffic, parking, alcohol, and crime problems. The new parking lots that were originally promoted by the property owners as a “help” to the neighborhoods quickly became a “hurt,” and thus ultimately harmed the residents as well as the good nighttime businesses that once operated here.
We residents on Lower Greenville Avenue sincerely hope Lakewood area residents don’t learn this same parking lot lesson the hard way.