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Work on garage cuts Ybor parking

The city of Tampa hopes a 1,200-space garage will eventually solve Ybor visitors' parking woes.

By CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2001


The city of Tampa hopes a 1,200-space garage will eventually solve Ybor visitors' parking woes.

TAMPA -- The city hopes a new, 1,200-space parking garage going up near Ybor Square will solve the historic district's famously bad weekend parking crunch.

In the meantime, however, it's making matters worse.

"We've lost 400 spaces in the last 30 days," said Jose Fernandez, the city's assistant parking manager, pointing to construction on the new garage and on a new trolley terminal.

When the city opened the Centro Ybor Garage last May, people noticed a decrease in parking costs at street-level lots.

"(Prices) are starting to move up again," Fernandez said.

The existing city garage in Ybor charges a flat rate of $5 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday after 10 p.m., and otherwise charges $1 for four hours. Gene Bressler, the city's parking manager, said the new garage is expected to be open by late summer of next year.

"Once we get that garage built, we'll be okay," Bressler said.

Ian McGeehan, who runs a 17th Street lot, said he charges $10 on Friday night and $15 on Saturday, though he could probably charge $20 on Saturday. "Just last Saturday night, I had someone offer me $50 to park two cars," McGeehan said.

Today, the City Council is expected to take up a parking-related controversy McGeehan helped spark. It was McGeehan's company, Parking Enforcement, that clamped a metal boot on Mayor Dick Greco's Lincoln Town Car late last year when the mayor failed to pay his parking fees at a private lot.

The mayor said the signs were too small to see.

That prompted the city attorney's office to consider ways to crack down on car booters, and spurred bitter complaints from others who had been booted. The council will consider licensing car booters, making them wear ID badges, and forbidding them from charging more than $35 to remove the metal clamps.

McGeehan said such measures, if passed, would likely make his car-booting operation too costly.

"Maybe I should just go into the towing business," McGeehan said.

- Christopher Goffard can be reached at (813) 226-3337.

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