Employees and customers of some businesses along Camden Road aren’t happy with the newest addition to the streetscape: parking meters.
“Why?” asked Stephen Price, owner of Price’s Chicken Coop. “That’s the biggest question. Why after all these years?”
The popular South End lunch spot has free parking in the back, but customers have long parked in front of the store to dash in and pick up their chicken. Now they have to feed the meter: 25 cents for 15 minutes with a two-hour limit.
The meters, in place since June 22, grew out of a 2012 study by the Charlotte Department of Transportation. They were installed to prepare for the influx of vehicles expected in the area with the September opening of two Camden Road projects, bringing 50,000 square feet of retail space, 50,000 square feet of office space and 420 residents.
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The city hopes the meters will discourage those permanent residents, and employees of businesses along Camden, from parking all day on the street, said Allison Billings, vice president for Charlotte Center City Partners’ neighborhood development, transportation and sustainability. That would free up those spaces for customers, the thinking goes.
But some customers aren’t happy about paying for parking where it used to be free.
“If they weren’t so busy, I was going to ask them if it had hurt their business. I think it would,” said Jim Palombit, while eating Price’s chicken in the back of his pickup truck. “I think in the long run it could deter someone from coming here.”
Price, the owner, can say this much: “I’m not happy about the new meters. I can’t really judge if it has affected business yet, but lot of our customers aren’t happy.”
Billings said the city would meet with Price to hear his concerns.
Billings also said that a series of complaints from area businesses also prompted the installation of the meters. The complaints stated, she said, that cars were parking in front of their stores all day, creating inconvenience for customers.
But employees of businesses along Camden say the meters have created problems for them. Cassie Brown from TCG Events said her staff has access to only three parking spaces. She said her interns use the metered spaces, and have to move their cars every two hours to prevent parking tickets.
“We’re not a big fan of the meters,” Brown said. “There’s no parking, we don’t have anywhere to go. It’s a real issue. You can only stay two hours, and they track that.”
Jochen Tartak, co-owner of Ashland Advertising, new to Camden Road as of nine months ago, said had he known the parking problems would occur, he might have considered other locations.
“Right now, I can tell you the meter parking is creating a lot of issues,” Tartak said. “We’re basically having to look for parking wherever we can find it. You have to drive around sometimes five or 10 minutes just to find a place to park.”
Each business on Camden Road was given 100 complimentary one-hour tokens for parking, according to CDOT. Businesses can purchase additional tokens for 75 cents each to give to their customers as parking vouchers.
“We feel like we accommodated them to our best ability,” Billings said.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the organization where Allison Billings works.
Parking on Camden
Parking meters along Camden Road, home to popular businesses, including Price’s Chicken Coop, are enforced from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. People can park for up to two hours. Drivers must pay 25 cents per 15 minutes for a maximum of two hours.