Paid parking coming to Cherry Creek Shopping Center.
Paid parking starts in January.
Paid parking needed because of nearby development pressures.
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Cherry Creek Shopping Center will start charging for parking for the first time in its history.
Cherry Creek Shopping Center, the top performing mall in the Denver area, will begin charging for parking next January.
The center, with more than 140 retailers, opened at 3000 E. 1st Ave. in 1990. About 16 million people visit the mall annually.
Development pressures in surround areas, such as Cherry Creek North, across 1st Avenue from the mall, necessitates the need for paid parking, Nick LeMasters, the long-time general manager of the Taubman-owned shopping center, said on Wednesday.
“From a neighborhood development perspective, all of this new density is really changing the character of Cherry Creek,” LeMasters said.
“With the addition of all of these new offices, new retail and new hotels, it has put greater pressure than ever on parking,” LeMasters added.
The 5,800 total spaces at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center accounts for 70 percent of the available parking in the area, he said.
What has increasingly been happening is that a lot of people who do not work or shop at the mall, but apparently work in the area, are parking in the center and leaving their cars there all day, he said.
“All of this new development has exasperated problems with parking in any area that has been perceived as having a parking shortage for a long time,” LeMasters said.
“This has created a dynamic that is not favorable to our employees at the shopping center or to our paying customers,” he said.
“This has been a real hardship for our employees and customers,” he added.
The new state-of-the-art system is being installed. It will be tested in the fourth quarter and rolled out in January.
“I want to be absolutely clear that this will not disrupt the holiday shopping season,” LeMasters said.
Cherry Creek Shopping Center’s parking rates will be among the lowest in the surrounding area, according to LeMasters.
Parking during the first hour will be complimentary. The second hour will cost $3.00. An extra dollar will be added upon hour three, raising it to $4.00. There will be , an additional $2 each hour afterwards, for a daily maximum of $16.
“These rates are very competitive,” LeMasters said.
This will be slightly more than the street parking, but customers will not have to move their cars, like they do not on the street.
It will be less than most other enclosed parking garages in the area, he said.
The purpose of paid parking is not to raise money, but to provide a better experience for paying customers.
Initially, he said he expects some “push back” from customers, who have long been accustomed to free parking.
“Perhaps they will find it inconvenient at first,” he said
But as they become accustomed to paid parking, he said he thinks they will find it is “more than worth it. This is truly a state-of-the-art system,” LeMasters said.
The mall is investing a “significant amount of money,” in the new system, which is nothing like Denver has ever seen before, he said.
Raising the parking bar
“Our plan is to implement the most technological advanced parking experience that Denver has ever seen,” LeMasters said.
The system, by Park Assist, will provide a number of high-tech ways to improve the parking and exiting experience at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, he said.
For example, when motorists arrive, signs will them where parking is available and which parking levels are filled, he said.
“You will be able to park much more quickly,” Le Masters said.
Each parking space will have either a green or red light, telling customers whether than individual space is filled, he noted.
And if a customer forgets where he or she parked?
If you type your license plate number into a kiosk display, it will tell you where you parked.
Currently, there is no data how much time a typical shopper spends at Cherry Creek Shopping Center.
“It really varies,” LeMasters said.
“Some people are very purposeful and just want to come, get something and leave. Obviously, if you are going to Cherry Creek to have dinner and a movie, you will be there longer,” he said.
The movie theater at Cherry Creek will validate parking, he said. Other merchants can choose to validate parking tickets.
A potential “ancillary” benefits will be an increase in security, he said.
“We will be adding several hundreds more cameras, so that will provide an additional measure of safety and security,” LeMasters said.
“Fortunately, safety has never been a significant problem, but with many new cameras and an integrated guidance system, it is nice to have more security and an added level of safety,” he said.
The approximate 3,000 employees at the mall will not pay for parking, he said.
“The stores need those people and they shouldn’t be burdened by this,” he said.
However, many people who work at the mall, especially millennials, don’t want to drive at all, he said.
“They want to take public transportation or their bikes,” he said.
“Some millennials don’t even own cars; some don’t even have driver licenses,” he said.
To that end, Cherry Creek Shopping Center is looking at ways to reduce employee parking.
“We are partnering with Transportation Solutions and (its executive director) Stuart Anderson to develop programs that would provide multiple alternatives for employees to gain access to the shopping center,” LeMasters said.
That not only would free up more parking spaces for paying customers, but would have environmental benefits, he noted.
More to come
Also, the center is in the early stages of exploring putting in charging stations for electric cars in the future.
“We don’t know where they will go or how many there would be, at this time, but it is something we are very interested in, especially as EVs, (electric vehicles) become more popular,” Le Masters said.
Also, during special events, parking will be free.
“For example, during the Cherry Creek Sneak, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival and the Cherry Creek Farmers Market, the gates will be up and customers will not pay,” while the vents are open, Le Masters said.
He noted that paid parking at urban and urban-like parking systems is becoming increasingly popular across the nation.
“It’s not just in Cherry Creek,” Le Masters said. “A lot of other urban centers, or more urban-like centers, are charging for parking or are looking at paid parking.”
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