Will downtown Birmingham valet service end hunt for parking spaces?

Economically, it can be a good thing for a downtown to have a parking shortage. It typically means businesses are thriving and commercial vacancies are low. For shoppers and visitors, however, there's really no upside.

With that in mind, a downtown-wide valet service is coming to Birmingham from April 2 to May 30. The service will be available noon to 6 p.m. Thursday - Saturday. The cost to use the valet is $4. There will be two pick-up locations: next to Roots at Henrietta and West Maple and at Comerica Bank on Old Woodward at Hamilton Row. Shoppers can call the valet when they're ready to be picked up.

"With warming weather, parking use increases significantly in April and May," says John Heiney, executive director of Birmingham's Principal Shopping District. "Plus, our merchants have told us that their customers have asked for this convenience."

He says downtown is at 98 percent occupancy and about 100,000 square feet of office space is being built over the next 18 months. The valet service, which was offered last spring and over the holidays, is a temporary fix to what looks to be a long term parking problem. Demand is increasing, Heiney said.

The city has established a steering committee to look at expanding the parking system and consider short term solutions such as relocating employee parking.

The company, In House Valet, will operate the service, which is being subsidized by the Principal Shopping District, an organization made up of downtown business owners that works in partnership with the city.

Source: John Heiney, executive director, Principal Shopping District
Writer: Kim North Shine
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