City to offer free parking as part of 'Downtown Tuesday' initiative

Plan aims to draw local visitors to downtown businesses, attractions

Published On: Feb 08 2012 03:24:35 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 08 2012 07:16:12 PM CST

If the price of parking keeps you from visiting some of your favorite downtown restaurants and attractions, city leaders said you're not alone.

"When you ask people why they don't come downtown, one of the things that they say immediately is parking," said District 1 Councilman Diego Bernal.

Now it won't be an issue -- at least one day week.

The city is launching a new initiative called "Downtown Tuesdays".

The plan was unveiled by city leaders at a press conference on Wednesday morning.

Beginning, Tuesday, Feb. 14, parking at city-owned lots, garages and meters will be free from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m..

The plan launches just in time for Valentine's Day, which could influence locals to plan Valentine's Day outings downtown.

However, it's hoped that the initiative will build moment and eventually, Tuesday will become the new Friday downtown.

"What it's meant to do is really to get locals downtown because we have a lot of tourists that come downtown. But we feel like there are a lot of locals who don't come downtown because they think it's a hassle," said Mayor Julian Castro.

Bernal estimated the city will lose $30,000 to $35,000 a year in parking revenue with the initiative but city leaders believe it will pay off in the long run.

"I'm confident that we're going to be able to make that up with people who are spending more money and by creating sales tax for the city but more importantly, they're spending money at the local restaurants, at bars, at the theater," said Castro.

Bernal said he hopes restaurants and other businesses jump on the bandwagon and start offering special discounts or events on Tuesday nights.

The Downtown Alliance and the Paseo del Rio Association already plan to offer special discounts every Tuesday. Locals should ask for the "Downtown Tuesday special" to take advantage.

Businesses taking part will display special decals on their store fronts to show they're participating in the program.

The plan supports Castro's SA2020 goals for downtown. He said he hopes once people visit downtown, they'll want to spend more time there and maybe even consider living downtown.