HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - People who spend time in downtown Huntsville know it's often hard to find a spot to park. But city leaders are about to spend some big bucks to make room for almost 500 more cars and trucks. With a stub on the dash or some change for the meter, you're always welcome to park in downtown Huntsville.
"Economic development is improving, so there are more businesses downtown and that means more people working downtown," John Hornbuckle said.
For the after 5:00 p.m. crowd, slow circling of the block becomes a habit, as many of those spots are quickly snatched up.
"They say they enjoy the service, they enjoy the food, they enjoy the atmosphere, but it's hard for them to come to this area of downtown just due to parking," Below the Radar general manager Chance Love said.
"As development continues downtown, parking becomes a little more difficult," Huntsville general services director Ricky Wilkinson said.
Huntsville city leaders are looking to build up, approving recent plans for a new parking garage along Holmes and Greene Street.
"It's just over $10 million for the total project budget. That'll include five elevated levels, 490 parking spaces, as well as ground level for some retail space," Wilkinson said.
"I think it's a great investment for the space. And I think it's long overdue," Love said.
Known as the Greene Street parking garage, city leaders plan to offer spaces for monthly, daily and hourly use.
"It's going to be an added value for convenience for people who are older and have to look for parking. It's an added layer of security," Hornbuckle said.
"To make sure it fits in with the neighborhood and really fits the character that's around it," Wilkinson said. "It's not just as simple as pouring a bunch of concrete, putting up some steel cables and calling it good."
What's not so good, business owners admit will be losing spaces on the city-owned lot for the next year. Once the garage is finished, they expect it'll fill a vital need. City leaders expect it'll take around a year to build the new garage. They expect it'll be done by early 2020.