Downtown Restaurants Are Feeling the Effects of Parking Rate Increases

Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 6:17 PM EST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Just over a month ago, the Lexington Fayette County Parking Authority implemented the first parking meter rate increase since 2019, along with the first meter enforcement hour change since 2008. The move frustrated business owners and their employees, and it led LexPark to call a special meeting in December; where they made some revisions to their new rules.

On Jan. 3, when these parking increases were introduced in Lexington, many people were frustrated. But, it’s not just your wallet that is feeling the effects of these increased rates and enforcement hours. Small businesses say they are also getting the short end of the stick; specifically, restaurants.

“I’ve definitely seen a downturn in the business we have seen,” said Josef Ferguson, General Manager of Zim’s and The Thirsty Fox. “Particularly during the week, at night and on Saturdays.”

In Lexington, meter enforcement hours used to be Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. But since Jan. 3, meters are enforced Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., which are crucial hours for restaurant and dining operations.

“It’s an inconvenience, a crippling inconvenience in some cases, all day during the week and all day Saturday,” said Ferguson. “Six-sevenths of our business is now hampered by this.”

Restaurant owners and managers like Ferguson worry that this could be the reason people start to avoid coming downtown moving forward; especially when they could easily choose another restaurant outside the city with free parking.

“If some changes don’t happen 20 years from now, people will be wondering why downtown Lexington is a ghost town again; and that will be the reason,” said Ferguson.

However, Ferguson hopes that people will still see the attraction in spending time in downtown Lexington, and learn to be okay with having to spend a little extra if they can.

“I hope people will overcome the obstacles and come down and see us at Zim’s, or any of the other great restaurants downtown,” said Ferguson. “There are fantastic restaurants downtown. It’s just going to be a little more difficult to get down and see us now, which is a shame.”