View Full Version : Bricktown to offer free parking during lunch & Tues. nights

07-26-2007, 08:13 AM
Bricktown to offer free lunchtime parking

July 26, 2007
The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – More Bricktown parking is going to be free. Sometimes.Beginning in August, a collection of Bricktown merchants will pick up the check for parking fees for patrons who eat in the district at select times.

Jim Cowan, executive director of the Bricktown Association, said Wednesday that through a cooperative agreement, one Bricktown parking lot will be free during lunch on weekdays and another four lots will be free on Tuesday evenings beginning Aug. 1.“We are so excited about the opportunity to enhance the customers’ experience in several different ways but especially as it relates to parking,” Cowan said.

The lunchtime agreement will make free parking available at Don Karchmer’s Bricktown Parking Investors lot on the west end of Main Street in Bricktown. The arrangement has been in the works for about three months.

Kirk Jackson, manager for BPI, said that particular lot has more than 700 spaces with about 100 reserved for Bricktown employees.Jackson said rates in the lot normally run from $3 to $5, depending on the day. Those coming for lunch between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays will pay $3 to enter the lot, which will be refunded with a restaurant’s validation.Jackson said 12 Bricktown restaurants had signed up and a few more deals were pending.“We’re giving all the restaurants in Bricktown an opportunity to sign up,” he said. Merchants who participate will pay BPI a flat fee each month.

Another arrangement will open up four parking lots around Bricktown owned by Jim Brewer after 5 p.m. on Tuesdays for free parking with restaurant validation.“We wanted to pick an off night to bring business into the district,” Cowan said. “Both the merchants and the parking lot owners are participating in the cost of parking that car.”Cowan said merchants will pay a reduced parking rate for their patrons who park in the selected lots.

One Bricktown restaurateur, Avis Scaramucci, owner of Nonna’s, offers valet parking for her customers but said she wanted to sign on to join the community effort. “It just gives us yet another option too,” she said. “If they want to pull right up to the door we are still going to have that $5 valet parking. If they want to get out and get a little nice exercise and park for free we’ll go along with that.”Cowan said the move will encourage people to come to Bricktown just as those visiting Lower Bricktown can park in a free lot behind Harkins Theatres and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill.“We want people to come experience the restaurants, come walk around our district,” Cowan said. “This is something that people have wanted to do for a long time. It just finally took getting the right people together in the room and saying ‘hey, how can we make the parking experience better?’”

Jim Cowan, executive director of the Bricktown Association, announces that Bricktown area patrons will get free parking in one lot during lunch if they eat at a Bricktown restaurant. Parking will also be offered for free in four Bricktown lots on Tuesday evenings. (Photo by Jennifer Pitts)

07-26-2007, 08:47 AM
Thu July 26, 2007

16 Bricktown cafes to validate lunch parking

By Steve Lackmeyer

For years, veteran Bricktown parking operator Jim Brewer has said he's willing to work with merchants to provide validated free parking to customers.
Wednesday, Brewer and fellow veteran Bricktown developer Don Karchmer announced they've agreed to do just that and will introduce parking validations with participating restaurants between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekdays and after 5 p.m. Tuesdays.

The agreements involve up to 16 restaurants, including well-known eateries such as the Bricktown Brewery, Abuelo's, Spaghetti Warehouse and Nonna's.

Brewer credited Bricktown Association director Jim Cowan with helping seal the deal that has eluded the entertainment district for so long. Cowan took over as director in February, after a 15-year stint as manager and then owner of the Bricktown Brewery.

"They got in and worked with the merchants,” Brewer said, referring to Cowan and association Chairman John Allgood. "Instead of being divisive, they tried to make it inclusive.”

Karchmer's deal involves 750 spaces he operates north of Main Street, adjacent to the Walnut Avenue bridge and the Bricktown Police Substation. He established a similar arrangement with restaurant employees last year, and began talks with Cowan in early spring.

Brewer's arrangement involves four parking lots he owns that surround the Bricktown Canal. They include one of the district's most visible lots, just north of Chelino's, which was Bricktown's primary parking through the mid-1990s.

Allgood, who is also executive director of the Oklahoma RedHawks, said Wednesday's announcement marks a new direction for the entertainment district.

"We've been working on how we advance — we're proud of our past, but we're looking to our future,” Allgood said.

Cowan admitted that amidst the ongoing excitement over Bricktown's development, he's never stopped hearing about parking.

"‘Somebody should do something about parking.' I hear that a lot,” Cowan said. He told reporters Brewer approached him years ago about validated parking, but he failed to act on the idea.

Cowan added uncontrolled free parking, without validation, is not the right path for the district.

"We don't want people to just come and park their cars,” Cowan said. "We want them to experience Bricktown.”

Mayor Mick Cornett applauded the announcement. The city is hiring a consultant to look at Bricktown parking, following a survey last fall that showed a majority of residents have a negative perception of the district's parking arrangements. Cornett said local tourism has increased by "double digits” the past two years and that Bricktown is key to visitors' and residents' perceptions of the city.

"There is a responsibility of Bricktown stakeholders to recognize that a higher profile comes with higher responsibilities,” Cornett said. "And you had better be responsive to your customers at the end of the day ... so it's wise of these property owners to realize perception of parking is an issue that needs to be addressed.”

Other Bricktown News:

Bricktown power watched
An Oklahoma Gas & Electric lineman is being posted in Bricktown every night, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in response to power outages in the entertainment district.
OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said merchants were notified about the action Tuesday after five outages in the past 45 days. Merchants complained they lost thousands of dollars from the power failures, which were blamed on lightning strikes, construction crews and cable failures.

Alford said having a lineman on site will speed up response times while the utility spends the next several months adding new lines, trouble shooting equipment and burying older overhead lines.

Once the work is complete, the upgrades will result in four independent power sources into Bricktown, additional remote monitoring and controls and a supply of higher voltage, Alford said.

Business Writer Steve Lackmeyer