With downtown WF seeing more interest, leaders look to address parking

With downtown WF seeing more interest, leaders look to address parking
Spots are quickly filling up on the streets of downtown Wichita Falls with more businesses moving in. (Source: KAUZ)
Spots are quickly filling up on the streets of downtown Wichita Falls with more businesses moving in. (Source: KAUZ)
The City of Wichita Falls recently purchased this parking garage from Wichita County. (Source: KAUZ)
The City of Wichita Falls recently purchased this parking garage from Wichita County. (Source: KAUZ)

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - As interest in downtown Wichita Falls continues to rise, that means more people.

More people means more parking.

The city and Downtown Development are working to address the issue and make downtown the best it can be.

"Right now I don't think it's a critical situation," Deputy City Manager, Jim Dockery said. "But it needs to be thought out, planned out, evaluated, and recommendations need to be put in place."

Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, businesses, and apartments continue to pop up in downtown Wichita Falls, but no additional parking.

"Parking is ultimately going to become an issue if things continue to develop," Dockery said.

Dockery said the city is working with Downtown Development on some innovative ideas to address the inconvenience.

He said there's plenty of parking downtown, but a lot of it is in private hands.

So Downtown Development is helping them try to make those spots available at night and on the weekends.

"When there's a lot of business going on at the brewery or a lot of business going on at Half Pint, those typically are evening hours and they may need additional parking," Dockery said. "Now there's some adjacent parking nearby."

"I don't really believe it is a parking issue," Executive Director of Downtown Development, Jana Schmader said. "I believe it's a signage issue."

Schmader said the signage has to be more clear so people know where they can and can't park.

Some of the other efforts to fix the issue include the city purchasing a parking garage from Wichita County, possible changes requiring developers to provide parking, and conducting studies seeing what other cities do in their downtowns.

"I think you're going to see some proposed changes come up through council, which will implement required parking for developers," Schmader said. "That way if they do purchase a property and go ahead and develop it into residency, then they can give their tenants the best opportunity possible."

"Ultimately we're going to have to study the issue a little bit more also to make sure that we have adequate regulations in place," Dockery said.

Schmader said even though they are looking into parking improvements downtown, she actually encourages people to take the time to walk throughout the district and see everything it has to offer.

As she puts it: Park once. Explore more.

Dockery said their top priority is to make sure there is adequate parking for the apartment projects in the works, adding people can't walk two blocks with their groceries.

He also said not having enough parking has made it difficult for developers to secure loans for some of the apartment projects currently in the works.

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