Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

New parking rules for Mulberry parking deck near Douglass Theatre

Live attendants no longer collect money upon exit but Park Macon will track scofflaws
A Park Macon employee takes a spin through the 440 Mulberry St. parking deck, which is now operated through a contactless online payment system.

Patrons of the Douglass Theatre and visitors to downtown now need cell phones if they plan to use the parking deck at 440 Mulberry St.

Park Macon, the parking management arm of the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority, recently implemented a contactless online payment system that eliminates the need for grabbing a time-stamped ticket on the way in and a booth attendant to collect money upon exit.

Human eyes no longer track who leaves without making payment, but license plate-reading cameras will help identify drivers who do not pay. Park Macon will follow-up with citations.

The UDA-owned deck also serves Bibb County School District employees and those who work at Gateway Plaza and other downtown locations.

“We’ve been able to get everybody into the system and they’ve been able to purchase their permits online, and it should show who’s paid and who has not,” Park Macon’s Steven Schroeder told the UDA Thursday morning.

Patrons of the 440 Mulberry St. parking deck no longer have to pick up a time-stamped ticket when entering from Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Park Macon now has a contactless online payment system. (LIZ FABIAN)

Monthly rates are $45, 24-hour daily rates are $6, and it costs $1 per hour to park between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., according to the website.

Unlike other parking sectors downtown which are only free on Sundays and holidays, there is no charge to use the Mulberry parking deck on Saturdays and Sundays.

The deck has its own 60625 Park Macon zone and spaces can be reserved through the ParkMobile website and the parking app.

In 2017, UDA took over downtown parking and installed meters the following year to ensure a quicker turnover of spaces instead of downtown workers and residents occupying them all day. There is a maximum of three hours for metered parking. Those staying longer are urged to use one of the parking decks.

Four other privately-owned decks with varied pricing are located at 577 Mulberry St., 606 and 402 Cherry St. and 427 Poplar St.

The new contactless online payment system for the 440 Mulberry St. parking deck makes the cashier’s booth obsolete. (LIZ FABIAN)

The UDA will manage two new decks planned with construction of the Central City Commons project in the block between Poplar and Plum, and First and Second streets, and a municipal deck to be used by county employees and residents of another multi-use development slated to be built behind City Hall.

Although metered parking resumed more than five years ago, some still try to skirt the system.

“Some cars you see everyday that don’t pay,” Schroeder said. “But, we’re definitely seeing more cars paying either on the app or meter.”

January’s parking revenue was up over last year, but so was the number of people not paying citations, he said.

Park Macon keeps a list of those in arrears who will soon be hearing from the UDA about paying up to avoid legal action.

“We hired a new operations manager for the Urban Development Authority who will take them to court,” said UDA Executive Director Alex Morrison. “They will work with the Park Macon Team and Municipal Court on a more regular basis.”

For nearly a year, UDA has been without an operations manager to oversee parking.

Patrons of the Douglass Theatre and downtown Macon get free parking on Saturdays and Sundays in the deck at 440 Mulberry St. (Liz Fabian)

During Thursday’s UDA meeting, Morrison and Chair Kay Gerhardt both admitted to getting recent tickets. She overstayed her allotted time by four minutes, she said, and he had started reserving a space through the app, but got distracted and failed to submit his payment.

“When I opened my phone again, I realized I hadn’t done it. So, I started my parking session at 1:45 and I got a ticket at 1:41. But, I paid it,” he said.

Morrison said after five years, he believes most people have accepted the system and do comply.

“It’s a fact of city life. You have to allocate the parking resources you have,” he said.

Loft projects bringing hundreds more downtown residents, new businesses and attractions such as the Otis Redding Center for the Arts will create the need for even more parking.

Business owners are beginning to see they cannot thrive if employees are taking up spaces and customers can’t find nearby parking, Morrison said.

“They realize their part is extremely valuable to a growing downtown, and that you are allocating parking appropriately and have more convenient opportunities for parking and resources for long-term parking,” he said.

Civic Journalism Senior Fellow Liz Fabian covers Macon-Bibb County government entities and can be reached at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.

More to Discover