Downtown Las Cruces revitalization brings parking worries


New businesses are eyeing downtown Las Cruces as the place to be with Main Street freshly reopened, which means bigger crowds and a higher demand for parking.

Downtown business owners told ABC-7 they're thrilled about the crowds, but they want visitors to have somewhere to park.

City officials said those visitors may have to pay for parking sometime in the future.

"When the businesses all grow, which is inevitable here, the parking issue is one they're going to have to tackle," said Las Crucen Julie Ford-Oliver.

"Right now there's plenty of parking. There's plenty. You just have to look and walk a little bit, which is not bad," said Diana Lyon, owner of Insta-Copy on Main Street.

A parking study completed in July shows there are more than 3,000 parking spaces downtown. According to the study, even on the busiest days, more than half of the spaces stay empty.

"Wednesday, we have farmer's market in the morning. We also have businesses open and government open during those hours, but even now we only have 47 percent of our parking spaces being used during that time," said City Manager Robert Garza.

As downtown begins to grow and thrive, Garza said the city will eventually have to build parking garages.

"We most likely will have to charge a nominal fee for people to park there so we can help recover some of the costs of building that structure," he told ABC-7.

Las Crucens had mixed thoughts about a parking fee.

"I figure a majority of people in the city won't mind paying for that. I wouldn't mind. It wouldn't bother me at all," one person said.

"I pay for it in my taxes. I consider I pay for it already, so I hope it doesn't come to that. I understand if it does, but I won't like it," said Ford-Oliver.

As for parking meters, Garza said that's not in the future for downtown.

"We don't plan to make money on parking or anything like that. We want to make a good parking plan that works. The idea is that people see a meter that means pay money or go away. We don't want people to go away. We want them to come downtown," he said.

Garza said the parking garages are still far off in the future since there's no need right now.

The city also plans to build a downtown plaza.

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