The hourly rates to park in the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority's Kent Central Gateway parking facility have been announced, though they won't be taking effect until early July.
When PARTA opened its parking deck at South DePeyster and East Erie streets on April 30, it opted to let motorists park free of charge until rates could be determined and equipment was installed. From now until July 8, even though the extra 365 parking spaces in downtown Kent will be a hot commodity during Kent's July 6 Heritage Festival, parking will remain free, said Bryan Smith, PARTA director of planning.
"We know that Heritage Fest is a time when a lot of folks who haven't been coming into downtown Kent are going to be visiting again for the first time of the year and we wanted to make sure that for this visit people had a chance to park on the deck without worrying about cost," Smith said. "In all honesty, we also know the top of the deck is going to be a place where people are going to want to watch the fireworks from."
When PARTA begins charging for parking on July 8, the hourly rates will be:
Free for the first 30 minutes
$1 for 30 minutes to one hour
$2 for one to one and a half hours
$3 for one and a half to two hours
$4 for two to three hours
$5 for three to 24 hours
Special events as posted
The 24-hour time period for parking resets at 4 a.m. daily.
Parking rates were determined through ABM Parking Management & Operations Services, a consulting firm hired by PARTA.
PARTA also plans to sell monthly parking passes, but is not yet ready to announce the going monthly rate yet, Smith said. PARTA is studying how it can balance demand for both montly and daily parking, he said.
"We need to make sure that we're cognizant of all the players who are interested in parking in the deck (with monthly passes), and also that we have enough spaces available for the transient folk who want to come, shop and eat and aren't monthly users," he said, adding that when PARTA begins to issue monthly passes, it will do so conservatively and watch the market play out to find the right balance.
So far, the parking deck has accommodated about 140 cars on average during peak times after lunch hour, Smith said. The highest estimated use yet has been about 260 cars on a Friday night, he said.
But construction on downtown Kent isn't finished yet, and neighboring projects including the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center, Fairmount Properties' residential and restaurant "Building C" and the new Portage County Municipal Courthouse on East Main Street will add to downtown Kent's demand for parking. The current number of parking spaces in downtown Kent, including the Kent Central Gateway, is at 1,107, according to Kent officials.
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