Covington’s Parking Plan for MainStrasse To Go Into Effect March 30

After being approved this past October, Covington’s new parking plan for MainStrasse Village will go into effect later this month.

Historically it has been free to park in the area, but the parking plan, which includes new metered street parking, a pay lot, and parking permits, will change that. According to the City of Covington, pay stations will be installed along Main and W. Sixth Street on March 26, signs will go up a few days later, and the pay stations will be live on March 30.

The project is intended to increase parking turnover and create designated parking for residents, so that it is easier for both visitors and residents to find a spot to park in the popular business district.

MainStrasse has seen a surge of new business activity of late. The last year alone saw the opening of Son & Soil, Bean Haus, Frida 602, and Mac’s Pizza Pub. Three more – Commonwealth Bistro, Craft & Vines, and Lisse Steakhouse – are slated to open soon.

Since being announced last fall, the plan has proven to be controversial. Business owners, residents and area patrons have all spoken out both in favor and against the idea.

One of the common concerns is how the new parking fees will affect new and existing businesses. The worry is that the plan will hurt MainStrasse’s ability to compete with other nearby entertainment and restaurant districts including Over-the-Rhine, Downtown, and The Banks, even though those districts also include payment-based parking setups.

The enforcement hours in MainStrasse will be limited, relative to street parking in Newport or downtown Cincinnati, particularly in the evenings, which are prime business hours for restaurants and bars that make up the district.

With street parking free after 5pm, and lots capped at $2 after one hour, businesses may actually still struggle with limited parking turnover during their busy hours at night.

At $0.35 per half hour on the street, and $1 per half hour (with a maximum charge of $2) in lots, the cost of parking in MainStrasse will be somewhat lower than what is charged in Over-the-Rhine, downtown Cincinnati, or Newport, although slightly more expensive than parking in Cincinnati’s other neighborhood business districts.

In addition to visitor-oriented changes, the plan includes modifications to improve parking availability for nearby residents – for a fee.

Sections of Philadelphia Street, Bakewell Street, Johnson Street, W. Sixth Street, and part of the Fifth Street lot will become resident-only parking. Passes to park in these spaces will cost $25 to $30 annually, and each property will be allowed to purchase two passes. Going against national trends to get rid of one-way streets, Bakewell Street, between W. Sixth Street and W. Ninth Street, will become one-way to allow for even more residential parking spaces.

The move will place MainStrasse alongside Pendleton, Newport, and Clifton as areas that also have resident-restricted parking, but it will be the only area charging a fee for the residential permits.

While efforts continue to take place to establish something similar in Over-the-Rhine, such efforts have been stymied due to an impasse between Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley’s (D) administration and neighborhood residents and business owners. Under those previously proposed plans, Over-the-Rhine parking permits would have cost $108 per year or $18 per year for low-income households.

  • Its going to be a long time if ever before its easier to park in OTR or downtown Cincy than it is in Covington. And I don’t see MainStrasse and the Banks as direct competitors.

  • What has always been funny to me is how much attention The Enquirer pays to things happening at Cincinnati’s City Hall, like the parking lease plan, but how they ignore these same exact things as they move forward in Northern Kentucky.

    • They already figured out that NKY doesn’t generate page clicks like downtown does.

  • pileon

    Chris Penn, owner of Cock and Bull in MainStrasse — one the mainstays in the district — told Enquirer that business has been down in MainStrasse because of “competition from OTR.” He should know. Paid parking will not help matters.

    • Every time a city proposes adding meters to previously free parking spaces, extending enforcement hours, etc., business owners say it’s going to hurt their business. However, time after time, we see that the opposite in fact happens. The most recent local example I can think of is when Findlay Market changed their parking lots from free to pay, and business has been booming since then.

    • Steve Weide

      It’s not whether parking is paid that makes a difference, it whether parking is available. I have never heard someone say they wanted to go somewhere but weren’t going to because they would have to pay for parking (assuming it was a reasonable amount). I have heard a lot of people say they won’t go somewhere because there is no parking available. If the paid parking means it is easier to park, it will attract more people than are scared off by having to pay a couple bucks to park. We are talking about bars and restaurants that are not exactly super cheap. If people can afford to pay $30 to eat and drink at the Cock and Bull, a couple extra dollars to park isn’t going to change their mind from going there.

    • ghendric

      It’s illogical to think that making someone pay to park is going to attract more people down there. That’s upside down backward thinking.. nobody likes to pay to park… NOBODY…

    • It’s not illogical at all. If nearby residents are parking in this lot because it’s free, and they decide to no longer park there because it’s no longer free, then spaces will become available to visitors who want to patronize nearby businesses.

      Again, time after time, small business owners say, “charging for parking will hurt our business.” And time after time, this is shown to be false.

    • ghendric

      If I lived there, I’d want to park in the closet parking spot to my home which should be free. I bet they don’t like it that now they have to pay to park in their “driveway”…

    • It is still easier to park in Covington than it is in OTR so obviously parking has nothing to do with loss of business.

  • ghendric

    What a load of crap.. parking has always been an issue down there and you were lucky to get a spot in the lot off of 5th street in the evening. Its almost not worth it to go down there now for dinner now that i have to pay to park. If i’m going to have to pay to park, maybe they should create a parking garage down there somewhere to make it simpler to find parking instead of driving all over the neighborhood to find a place that only lets me park there for a couple of hrs. If I have to move my car after 2 hrs or feed the meter, i’m leaving the area. screw it..