Saturday, July 27, 2002

Bellevue's popularity creates parking problem

Not to worry: More spaces are on the way

By Cindy Schroeder,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BELLEVUE — Popularity spawns parking spaces — and competition for them.

        By mid-September, parking for Joe's Crab Shack and the other businesses in the riverfront Port Bellevue mixed-use office and commercial development should double to 350 spaces.

        They're needed, area business owners say, because ever since the Crab Shack opened, parking has been at a premium. Some say the new spaces may not alleviate the tight parking problem, as new businesses open.

        “It'll help some, but it's not going to solve the problem, especially when (Buckhead Mountain Grill) opens,” said Tonya Brumley, manager of the Subway restaurant in Port Bellevue.

        She added patrons of Joe's Crab Shack often park in the adjacent lot serving the Subway and Burger King restaurants. “We have cars towed every weekend,” Ms. Brumley said. “This has been going on ever since (Joe's Crab Shack) opened.”

        Since the restaurant opened on Jan. 15, Joe's Crab Shack manager Kevin Hoover said, his parking lot has often been full on Friday and Saturday nights.

        “Once these other businesses come in like Buckhead (Mountain Grill), it'll be some tight parking competition,” Mr. Hoover said.

        Across the street, management of The Party Source hires occasional security to make sure that people don't park in that lot and leave.

        Those who do so risk being towed, said General Manager John Stiles.

        “It's a customer lot only, and our first responsibility is to our customer,” he said.

        Bellevue Administrator Don Martin said it wasn't unusual to wait for a parking spot on Friday and Saturday nights when Joe's Crab Shack first opened. Since then, he said city staff has received “almost no complaints about the parking.”

        “(The lot's) almost always full, but there are other places people can park,” said Mr. Martin. Parking is available on the north side of Fairfield Avenue, the main east-west corridor through the city. “People tend to want a spot right in front of the door. If they don't get a spot by the door, they complain about parking.”

        Mr. Martin said Bellevueofficials have worked out an agreement with The Party Source to provide 20 parking spaces for employees of Joe's Crab Shack. He added city staff is working on a similar agreement with another business for the Buckhead Mountain Grill employees when that establishment opens in mid-September.About75 of the new spaces are expected to be available as soon as next week. That's when the city of Bellevue will finish paving and striping an overflow lot east of Patchen Avenue, said Mr. Martin.

        A preliminary development plan has been approved for the second phase of Port Bellevue just to the east.

        That phase will include a 100,000-square-foot office building above a 450-space parking garage, 62 condominiums and townhouses, an improved marina, and two outbuildings for small office use, Mr. Martin said.

        Pending approval of a final development plan about a month from now, Ackermann Group of Cincinnati plans to start the second phase of Port Bellevue this fall, Mr. Martin said. The garage and office building should be finished by fall 2003.

        “Once this other development's completed, during the daytime there will be 75 spaces available in that garage for public use,” Mr. Martin said. “In the evenings, the entire garage will be available for public use.”


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