Gay Street businesses speak out about parking changes

Gay Street businesses speak out about parking changes


6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The city of Knoxville is still trying to work out the ticketing procedures for the new parking hours on Gay Street, even though the enforcement was already supposed to be underway.

The maximum parking time is being increased from one hour to two hours between Summit Hill Drive and the Gay Street Bridge.

The enforcement date has now been pushed back to mid-March.

"The difference is that we're going to start enforcing that until midnight every night, seven days a week, and that's a change for folks downtown," said Downtown Coordinator Rick Emmett.

The enforcement is a change as well, but in exchange, people are getting longer in a spot than they did before.

"We're gaining at least an extra hour of time for people to park on the street for free. The time were 30 minutes to an hour, sometimes 15 minutes, so it was very limiting for folks," Emmett added.

One shop 6 News spoke with says the changes could help draw in customers.

"I think this will give more opportunities for everyone to park. It will rotate out the parking a little bit more, but for the people using the local businesses, they'll have time to do what they need," said Nick Waller, a manager at Mast General Store.

But not every business thinks they will benefit from the change.

"I have some customers, they stay more than four hours, six hours. It's happened on the weekends," said Cairo Cafe co-owner Alber Ibrahim.

Even employees take advantage of the prime parking in front the Cairo Café. Their building doesn't have its own dedicated parking spaces.

"We park all the time in the front of the store, but after the new rule the first of March, that would be tomorrow. I don't know what I'll do. Seriously, I don't know," Ibrahim added.

According to one study, about 70% of the people parking on Gay Street live downtown or work there.

Until enforcement begins, the city is issuing warnings.

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