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New Gainesville parking deck is almost done. Here’s what may change besides extra spots
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The new parking deck off the downtown Gainesville square was set to open June 1. Officials are now hoping it will be open by the end of the month. - photo by Shannon Casas

Store owners and visitors will have more places to park once the new North Parking Deck opens in downtown Gainesville, but it may come with stricter parking rules on the street. 

“I’ll be glad when it opens,” said Moe Lyons, owner of Moe’s Record Shop. 

Business may pick up once people have more options, he said. 

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Moe Lyons works in his record shop June 2, 2022. He said he's excited to see the new parking deck, located near his shop, opening soon. - photo by Shannon Casas

“A lot of people stopped coming down here because they can’t find a place to park,” Lyons said. He hopes a floor of the parking deck will be designated for employees on the square. 

The 411-space parking deck across from the Gainesville Library is set to open by the end of June. 

Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said officers have taken a more lenient approach while several downtown projects have been under construction over the last couple years, including the parking deck as well as Gainesville Renaissance, and a recent streetscaping project. Parking around the square and on most side streets downtown allow two-hour parking from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but many visitors, as well as workers and residents downtown, overstay those designated hours. 

“Since construction (started) we’ve kind of been complaint focused,” Parrish said. “Some of that will change as the parking deck opens and availability becomes (greater).”

Some of the parking layout has changed as well after a streetscaping and paving project finished most work about a month ago

The city removed parking spaces from Washington Street between Green and Bradford streets. Parrish said officers have had to spend more time there giving people warnings, because the change is still fresh. 

City Manager Bryan Lackey said the city may change the rules once the deck opens and people grow accustomed to it. 

“I use the term, ‘We need downtown to heal’ and get everyone accustomed to the new deck and then we have to adjust that,” Lackey said. “We need to adjust the two-hour (limit) whether that’s on the surface parking or on the decks.”

Shannon Faile, owner of Image Boutique, said she has mixed feelings about the parking deck. 

“I think it's good because it is going to create more space for people,” Faile said. “But I think people have this kind of preconceived notion about parking decks and they may not always feel that safe in them, so I think that's something that keeps people from parking in them and sometimes from coming downtown to shop.” 

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Shannon Faile of Image Boutique talks June 2, 2022, about her concerns with the new parking deck coming just off the downtown Gainesville square. - photo by Shannon Casas

“That’s what I hear from most of my customers, that they don’t really want to park in a parking deck,” she said. 

Police are more often called to monitor loitering, car stunts and skateboarding in parking decks than parking violations.

“Our parking decks are not for loitering and they’re not for hanging out on,” Parrish said. 

Blake Davis, who works on the square, said the added parking space is “definitely good,” but “access is not the same as parking on the street.” 

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Blake Davis eats his lunch on the downtown Gainesville square June 2, 2022. Davis works on the square and said he gets to work early to find parking. - photo by Shannon Casas

“I don’t think people really want to walk 300 yards to get to a shop,” Davis said. 

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A driver snags one of the coveted parking spots on the downtown Gainesville square during the lunch hour on June 2, 2022. - photo by Shannon Casas

The deck was expected to open on June 1, but Lackey said supply chain issues and a problem with the deck’s elevators caused a delay. 

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held July 15. 

Conner Evans contributed to this report.