Mall manager says neighborhood redevelopment has created parking pressure
Cherry Creek mall shoppers will have to pay for parking starting in January if they plan to stay at the shopping center for more than an hour.
Installation of the Smart Parking system has already begun, mall marketing director Dave Dixon said. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The new fee applies to all surface lots and the covered parking garage.
The Cherry Creek North neighborhood near the shopping center has undergone massive redevelopment in the past few years, with the addition of new residential buildings, hotels, restaurants and retail, and that has created parking pressure on both sides of East First Avenue.
“The center’s lots are heavily used by customers, but also by those not shopping at the center,” Cherry Creek Shopping Center general manager Nick LeMasters said in a statement. “Our top priority is to make sure our customers have the best possible experience when they visit. This includes having easy access to parking and entrance to the mall, so the implementation of this parking program became essential.”
Mall visitors will receive a ticket upon entering the shopping center’s parking lots. The first hour of parking will be free. The second hour will cost $3, the third hour will cost $1, and additional hours will cost $2 each, until the daily maximum of $16. Customers will be able to pay with cash, credit and debit cards at the approximately 30 kiosks as they walk out of the mall.
“A reasonable amount of time” will be allotted for shoppers to make it from the kiosks, to the car and then to the gates for exit, Dixon said. That time has not yet been determined.
The AMC movie theater will validate tickets for all moviegoers, Dixon said. Other retailers may also decide to provide parking validation for their customers, he said.
The Smart Parking program will include a navigation feature that alerts customers with information about available parking spots. Digital signage will direct drivers to those spaces. The kiosks will also locate customers’ vehicles for them.
Shopping center employees and bicyclists will park for free. Fees will be waived during Cherry Creek Fresh Markets, Cherry Creek Arts Festival and Cherry Creek Sneak.
Parking lots at stores outside the mall — including Bed Bath & Beyond, Safeway and The Container Store — will be included in the fee system.
International Parking Institute spokesman Casey Jones said he wasn’t surprised by the shopping center’s plan to charge for parking, calling the fee an appropriate transportation-demand strategy.
“It feels like probably a good strategy to help with managing demand,” Jones said, “especially if technology comes along with it that makes that experience even more positive.”
He said charging for parking mitigates congestion and helps spur turnover, which brings new customers to retailers. For consumers, it improves access to in-demand businesses.
“Chances are, this is going to be seen a year from now as something that was really beneficial,” Jones said. “Parking systems cost money, but they’re critically important to make sure access is managed.”