Writer Lauren Redding was awarded an above the fold last Wednesday morning about the travails of some people who parked a property that is managed by MacRo, Ltd. for an entity that it holds an interest in.
More power to Lauren for getting that position and it is a well written article … but “Golly,” it must have been a slow news day.
This is a great commercial real estate site on the new East Street gateway into downtown Frederick. While my group has awaited the right market for construction of an 80,000 square foot office/retail center for the site (known as One Commerce Plaza), we have leased it to the City of Frederick as a parking lot for the last 5 years, who in turn had provided parking to the Department of Social Services (DSS).
This past April 1st, the City terminated the lease, as it had completed new parking deck #5 that was expected to be the new home for the DSS employees. Monthly fees for parking will be $90 beginning July 1st. Well, at the same time the government entities that operate the DSS underwent budget cuts and told their employees that they would no longer subsidize parking for the 200 /- employees.
This sent these folks on a hunt for cheap and free parking. Seems that there are a number of non-metered (free) parking street spaces within blocks of the DSS offices. Some, however, really wanted to continue to park in the same MacRo parking lot on an individual basis. My decision was not to lease on an individual basis as I was told by others that such a venture would be a real hassle. My hope was to find another bulk tenant who would lease the entire lot and be responsible for maintenance, security, etc.
But after a number of very convincing pleas from a couple of the employees at DSS, I acquiesced and while against my better judgment offered the lot out for lease to anyone willing to pay $65/month, giving them the right to park 24/7 including weekends.
To be fair to paying customers, signs went up everywhere warning people not to park there without a permit or they would be towed away. We chose Dorsey Towing, a long standing business in the community, to be our permit enforcement company. Signs went up everywhere on the lot with serious warnings … but I guess old habits are hard to break! The first couple of weeks … there was a lot of towing. We urged the DSS folks to put signs inside their building, and I warned those convincing folks that I was losing my patience with this arrangement. Eventually things settled down … so we kept it going.
Then comes along the annual Frederick Festival of the Arts along the Carroll Creek linear park in downtown – a terrific event. Seems a former employee of DSS from several years ago has in the past parked on the lot during the festival … back when when the City leased it. Well, this very nice person was not aware of the change. Having not been to the site recently, she did not know about the very obvious signs that are posted everywhere stating that towing was enforced at a fee of $200. Many people were told that it was OK to park there (sort of went viral). Others who had done so in the past took the lead pulling into the lot to park for the day … I guess it was like taking lambs to slaughter. In they drove to park on the lot that weekend ignoring the warning signs … also ignoring the fact that the new City parking deck across the street offers free parking on weekends! Well, one can only guess how many cars were towed.
Only if someone from the Festival had called in advance for permission, I would have happily granted free parking that weekend.
So we”ve terminated all the leases, and our days of trying to be a Good Samaritan Parking Magnet are over … but we still are seeking that bulk tenant!
Gosh! Even a guy over 60 is capable of learning something new … My advice to anyone who is active in giving back to their community: Don’t have anything to do with a service that could indirectly involve the towing of cars belonging to members of your community …not good PR!