Business

Former Mayor Patrick Cannon sells his share of parking company he founded

Former Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon has sold his share of E-Z Parking, the firm he founded, owner Jeff Feemster told the Observer. The sale follows Cannon’s conviction and imprisonment on federal corruption charges.

The company, meanwhile, has lost another major client, Carolinas HealthCare System – although the hospital system said its decision to change parking vendors wasn’t related to Cannon’s criminal case.

Feemster said that Cannon no longer has any ownership of the company and that E-Z Parking will move past Cannon’s misdeeds, which investigators did not say involved his company. Feemster, who said he co-founded E-Z Parking with Cannon, had previously owned 50 percent of the company.

“Patrick Cannon is no longer part of this company, and he played almost no role in the business over the past five years. I recently purchased all of his stock and am now the sole owner of E-Z Parking,” Feemster said in a statement.

“Although our company has been negatively impacted by his actions, I am doing everything possible to retain the confidence our clients have placed in us for more than 16 years by continuing to provide excellent service and value,” Feemster said.

E-Z Parking lost the contract to manage 12,000 spots for CHS, spokesman Kevin McCarthy confirmed. CHS rebid the contract and awarded it in November to Chicago-based SP+ Parking, a publicly traded company that also provides staffing at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and manages seven parking lots uptown. McCarthy said SP+ Parking will begin managing the parking in mid-January.

McCarthy said there is “no connection” between Cannon’s arrest and conviction and the decision to award the CHS contract to SP+ Parking. CHS has said it made the decision to re-bid its parking contract in January, before Cannon’s arrest.

Cannon, a Democrat, was arrested in March after a sting by undercover FBI agents caught him accepting bribes in exchange for promising to help developers with building permits and other issues. Cannon, a longtime Charlotte City Council member who had been mayor only four months, pleaded guilty to a federal corruption charge and reported to prison in November to start a 44-month sentence.

SP+ Parking – formerly known as Standard Parking – also holds the primary parking contract for Bank of America and had subcontracted with E-Z Parking to manage the Seventh Street Station and TransAmerica Square Garage. Those parking decks serve hundreds of the bank’s employees.

SP+ Parking severed its ties to E-Z Parking after Cannon’s arrest, with Michael Wolf, the chief administrative officer, citing the company’s “zero-tolerance policy regarding affiliations with firms having even the appearance of impropriety.”

E-Z Parking officials emphasized at the time that the firm had not been involved in Cannon’s criminal case.

“I don’t feel E-Z Parking’s integrity has been in question,” Jay Ferguson, the general manager, said in July.

Laura White, a spokeswoman for the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, said the group is considering what to do with its parking lot across from the NASCAR Hall of Fame. E-Z Parking has long managed that 330-space lot on behalf of the association. Hill said the CRVA will likely decide in the coming weeks whether to bring its parking operation in-house.

Cannon founded E-Z Parking after longtime Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl approached him in 1996 to find minority contractors in the parking and security businesses. Cannon recruited Feemster, who had been a senior project manager with Central Parking. The company ran three properties for the bank and gradually expanded.

According to its website, E-Z Parking manages 16 lots, eight of which offer monthly parking and eight of which appear to offer primarily event parking, especially for Panthers games.

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