City Market merchants frustrated with lack of parking spaces, say it’s impacting business

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With all the growth over the past decade, it’s become a real struggle to find a place to park when visiting downtown, Kansas City, Mo., and business owners are concerned that it's causing them to lose customers.

Merchants at City Market will meet with city officials Thursday afternoon to discuss this problem.

Some merchants say the addition of the streetcar has made it even worse. Because parking in the lot near 3rd and Grand right outside the Arabia Steamboat Museum is free, many people will park their cars there all day and then jump on the streetcar to go to work.

Often by 10 a.m., when City Market opens for business, all the spots are taken and there is no place for customers to park.

Merchants say many customers who come to shop end up leaving because they can't find parking. Their employees also struggle to find a place to park and end up walking blocks just to get to work.

The merchants have complained to the city for years about the need for a parking garage in this area, but they say city officials are instead considering charging people to park here.

On the inside of City Market, there is another parking lot with a three-hour parking limit. On Wednesday, it was empty. No one parked there, afraid of getting a parking ticket.

The owner of the Arabia Steamboat Museum believes putting a three-hour free time limit on every City Market parking lot would solve the problem, freeing up spots for their customers, but he’s afraid they might end up putting in parking meters and charging a lot of money to park here.

"They’ve talked about a $3 initial fee with a dollar there after, I don’t know that they really know what they want to do, but if that’s what they do there your $2 coffee will cost $5," Hawley said. "Your $2 worth of produce will cost you $5."

If the city does start charging for parking, Hawley wants the city to give those who work here a tag to allow them to park in this lot all day and not have to pay for it.

They will all meet with city officials at 3 p.m. Thursday at Winslow’s.