By Michael Praats | November 3, 2020 at 6:02 AM EST – Updated November 3 at 6:03 AM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Living in Downtown Wilmington has its perks, but it also comes with its challenges, one of which includes finding parking. In an effort to accommodate homeowners the city created the residential parking permit program which limits certain blocks to permit parking only and time restrictions for those without a permit in other spaces.
Now, the city is looking to establish new parking limits on five more downtown blocks. The proposed changes come after a nine month parking study which began in February of this year.
“Downtown Wilmington’s commercial activity has seen tremendous positive growth over the past 18 years since the RPP (residential parking permit) Program’s inception. The current program’s structure has enabled additional commercial parking use activity within these residential district streets. Staff and the City’s parking contractor conducted detailed occupancy counts in 2019 and at the completion of these counts, staff, with support of the Downtown Parking Advisory Committee (DPAC), determined that it would be beneficial to establish additional parking restrictions on certain blocks for a nine (9) month pilot period to help further promote the RPP Program’s Goals,” according to City Council’s upcoming agenda.
The study changed the 200 block of South Second Street to permit parking only from 9 a.m. – 3 a.m. daily, and one hour parking for non-permit holders 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. daily; Permit only parking 5:30 p.m. – 3 a.m. daily for the 200 block Orange Street, 100 block Ann Street, 200 block Ann Street, and 300 block South Second Street.
“The data collected clearly showed the positive effect of the pilot. In the evening hours, non-permitted vehicle parking percentages were reduced from 57% down to 15% on Orange Street, with the other four blocks below 5%. On Sunday, a day previously with no restrictions in place, non-permitted vehicle parking percentages were reduced from fifty-one percent (51%) down to 28% on Orange Street, with the other four blocks at or below 11%,” according to council’s agenda.
The parking program however, is not without its challenges, by moving to permit parking only, surrounding businesses lost viable parking spaces for customers.
“The parking restrictions on 200 South Second Street were changed to residential permit only parking. Although these restrictions had a positive impact for the residents, it did create challenges for the Children’s Museum, which is just adjacent to this block and has nearly 120 feet of shared curb space along its property line,” according to city staff. “In October a meeting was scheduled between the residents and museum. The resulting outcome is a recommendation to revise and establish a portion of the 200 block of South Second Street as one (1) hour parking for non-permit holders during the hours of 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM. This change is anticipated to have a positive impact for the museum and also increase parking utilization on the block.”
So far, city residents have reacted positively to the changes.
“Residents have noted a reduction in vehicle congestion, noise, improvement in parking availability and overall improvement in quality of life,” according to council’s agenda.
City Council will vote on implementing the changes permanently Wednesday.
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