There’s almost no parking near Bona Pizza. That’s why the new owners, Glen Weinzimer and Mark Byrd, are glad the city has provided the parking lot close to their restaurant at Northeast 11 Avenue and Northeast 23 Drive.
“There’s not a lot,” said Weinzimer, who has so far unsuccessfully explored other solutions. One possibility is valet but Weinzimer said he’s been unable to find a spot for the valet to park the cars. He has his eye on the eventual narrowing of Wilton Drive from four lanes to two. He expects the on-street spaces in front of the restaurant will be eliminated when construction begins, making the new lot even more important. “I think it will really help us.”
At their June 13 meeting, commissioners approved measures related to two parking lots – the paving of a 23-space city near Bona Pizza, and the renewal of a revenue-sharing agreement with the owner of a 21-space lot at 2309 N. Dixie Hwy.
It’s the latest effort by the city to provide more parking for businesses. Recently, the city also started operating a free shuttle service along Wilton Drive. If the service is utilized, the city will keep operating it. The shuttle operates 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays to Sundays and has eight stops along Wilton Drive.
City officials purchased the parking lot behind Bona Pizza in October of 2015 for $447,879 to help alleviate some of the parking problems on the north end of Wilton Drive. The cost to pave the lot will be $270,746. City officials said they were able to reduce that paving cost from $290,319. At the time the lot was purchased, officials estimated it would cost between $180,000 and $240,000 to pave it. Sun Up Enterprises was chosen as the lowest bidder and has been contracted to do the work.
The lot purchase has been criticized by some residents as too expensive. Some residents also said that it would be a better use of money to build a single parking garage. This is the second parking lot the city has purchased and developed. In April of 2014, the city opened its 42-space lot on Northeast 26 Street and Northeast 8 Terrace across the street from Kids In Distress. The cost of buying the land and paving that lot was $788,000.
It was a cost that some city officials have also addressed. At the ribbon cutting for the Northeast 26 Street and Northeast 8 Terrace parking lot, Mayor Gary Resnick called the money spent “inordinate” but necessary.
When the lot behind Bona Pizza is unusable because it’s under construction, city officials said motorists will be able to use the lot close to it on Dixie Highway. Although the lot on Dixie Highway has been used less than expected, city staff recommended that commissioners renew an agreement with its owner. Per the agreement, revenue from the lot is split 50/50 between the owner and the city. The agreement doesn’t cost the city any money and it will retain 100 percent of revenue that stems from citations.