But better accessibility is likely to come with a price.
City officials are considering entering into an agreement with a valet and parking services provider that would allow pay parking in city-owned lots after 5 p.m.
More cars can be squeezed in a lot by a professional valet than what that lot can normally accommodate, officials say, which could help alleviate the parking problem that is a product of Canton Street’s burgeoning popularity.
Officials also hope instituting a parking charge will encourage employees of the restaurants, who now show up around 5 p.m. and fill up the best parking spaces all night, to park at City Hall or other spaces further away.
The restaurants or anybody else that’s open at night can contribute to the operational costs of the valet lots, which could keep parking there free or nominally priced for their customers, or the general public could pay the tab with a set price per vehicle.
Getting all the restaurants and other shopkeepers on board to make the necessary financial contributions is unlikely, based on past experience when a pay lot was briefly set up on Canton Street by a private landowner a few years ago, according to Councilwoman Nancy Diamond.
“The cleanest, straightest solution is that everyone who valets pays $3 and in some way they get back that $3 from the business they are going to,” she said.
The locations are the lot next to Wells Fargo on the west side of Canton Street and a lot on the east side between Ga. Hwy 9 and Canton Street that used to be the old city fire department years ago.
Diamond said city administrators are trying to hammer out a deal with the company, Patterson Parking, which is currently providing valet service for some of the restaurants.
The company has already cobbled together the use of 200 to 300 spots in a patchwork of private properties throughout the district, Diamond said.
For the two municipally-owned lots, the city would split any net revenue, with the city’s share going into a fund that would be used in the historic district for projects or improvements.
An agreement with Patterson had been scheduled to appear on last month’s agenda for the city’s community development committee, but it did not show up.
Diamond said she hopes it will be ready for the July meeting. That date has not yet been announced.