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Sunday, July 24, 2011

If You Build It, They Will Come (Guest Post by Ben Petracco)

Lifelong Fort Thomas resident, Ben Petracco identifies the Midway district parking problems and offers solutions. This is Ben's first post, so let's welcome him to Fort Thomas Matters. Here's Ben:

The Midway street scape project was recently finished which included lighting, landscaping, street resurfacing and new sidewalks. The project created a more open area moving the telephone poles which occupied the now absent islands to more modern street lamps on the sidewalks. The aesthetic aspect of the project worked very well, now I want to bring the logical part of the project to the foreground.

With businesses lining the street like The Midway, The Olde Fort Pub, Fort Thomas Pizza, Sarelli’s CafĂ© & Catering and others the street scape project limited valuable parking spots and did not provide new parking for customers to take advantage of.

On any given night the outside tables are fully occupied where they are available. The Midway and The Olde Fort Pub provide outdoor seating for patrons looking to put away some libations and some good eats. One can only imagine how business would increase if there was more parking available. With these two businesses being the main staples of the sit down customers, Fort Thomas Pizza has more of a carry out clientele, but could prosper from more parking slips as well.

A new business has been rumored to move into the area, The New Garden Restaurant, but the problem persists, where could customers park. If the city wants to utilize the other vacant store fronts along the street, parking would need to be provided; no business owner is going to develop a business where your clientele have to walk long distances to get to your front door.

I have identified a problem, so I am going to suggest some solutions.

  • Parking could be developed behind these stores. Some of the buildings have available parking behind them, but nothing that has been updated or made business friendly (lights in parking lots, multiple lots).
  • A parking lot could be made in between the building complex and the electric company building; this lot would be below street level but would provide the most spots for the space.
  • One last idea would be to purchase a portion of the lawn from the Veterans Hospital and convert it into a large parking lot providing ample spaces right across the street from the stores the customers are interested in. Granted there is a current lot between the Veterans Hospital and the soccer complex, but it leaves customers with a walk to the businesses and with young children or inclement weather this is not a customer’s ideal place to leave their car.

To increase business there must be customers (preferably happy ones). To increase the customer base there must be available and logical parking, and while the street scape project has made the business stretch of South Fort Thomas Avenue beautiful it has not left customers many options where to leave their car. It is a popular street with increasingly popular businesses, and if you build the spaces the customers will come.

Do you have suggestions where to construct a parking lot?


  1. You say, "...the street scape project limited valuable parking spots and did not provide new parking for customers to take advantage of."

    According to the master plan, the streetscape development adds parking. From the developer's website: "The plan includes new development opportunities, a streetscape layout, and additional and improved parking."

    That was the plan, I'd be curious to see a before and after layout of parking in the immediate area to see if it really happened.

  2. There is a small street that has a few houses on it and an apartment building (I actually lived in the apartment building) called midway court thats by the old ceramic building. I purpose buying the 4 to 5 houses and the 2 family apartment building (there are legal ways to go about it), demolish them and fill the valley up a little with fill dirt, and connect the existing parking lot with a new parking lot that would be built on the site of the houses. Or go down the road by the furniture store and buy the little shed sized real estate office and the house behind it and put a parking lot there. those are my proposals and i think it can be done with proper funds

  3. If those table are full every night, they must be parking somewhere close by..

    I think the streetscape project was a big success, particularly the outdoor dining/drinking option.

    Mostly the parking issue is a red herring... the farthest I've ever had to park (from the Midway) is in front of Best Furniture, or the lot in front of the stables.

    Generally, the biggest problem that most of the Midway restaurants have, is poor staffing/service. The food is good and reasonably priced, along with the beer.. But, if you went down there on July 2nd, you could grow old before getting a beer.

    I think the cost of demolishing buildings and creating a parking lot would be cost prohibitive..

  4. The next time you drive North on this stretch past the Midway, notice if the southbound traffic crosses the double yellow lines.

    I've noticed about 40% of the vehicles doing this. I believe this has something to do with the design that causes southbound drivers to think there is not enough room.

    Take note and see for yourself.

  5. The problem IS parking. But, not in the way you might be led to believe. I drive through midway every day back from work. There is a roto rooter van parked 4 out of 5 nights on the street. The parking problem stems from the apartment units on the street. The tenants are obviously parking there.
    Use meters, control hours of parking, have the hours better enforced by police, etc..
    Get rid of the apartments! I'm going on a limb but I think a lot of people especially families sometimes stay away from Midway because of the apartment clientele that frequent the surrounding areas. Just my two sense.

  6. My frustration is not with parking, but not having a sensible way to turn around. You either have to turn into the Southside Deli and deal with a left turn onto a sometimes very busy area with traffic coming from the 4-way stop...or take a left at the light, pull into the parking lot, back out and then sit at the traffic light again. Sometimes it takes over 5 minutes just to loop around to park on the other side of the street.

  7. I like the idea of getting rid of the apartments. I think the apartment building should be redevloped into condos and retail restaurant space. I know parking issues will still exist and get worse with this idea but since were on the topic of the midway and someone mentioned those apartments. I also agree that it would be alot of money but the midway could become a main street destination if more is done. Fix up the apartments and add parking to further improve the midway and fort thomas more.

  8. Who is going to pay for buying buildings, tearing them down and building parking lots. The city spent a good chunk to get things where they are. How about the businesses in the area stepping up and spending a few of those dollars they are making from those full tables and publicly owned parking spaces.

  9. I think businesses should step up a little bit to take the midway to the next level. I also think if the city put ordinances in place possibly on blighted looking buildings or went to owners and gave them options to renovate the buildings then they might be forced to or by choice to renovate them. As far as the parking lots I dont know, but im sure there are many other options other than taxppayer funded ways to build them and buy buildings to demolish them.

  10. They should really do something about that issue so they can settle it immediately. Thanks for the info.

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  11. I completely agree that parking is one issue that keeps me away from the businesses on the avenue BUT,there is another issue I fear no one has given enough thought. Not only is parking limited but very tight. If you do happen to get a parking space on the street, God forbid you have to step out from the front or rear end of your car to get back in the driver's seat to leave! Oncoming traffic gives you about a foot of space between their car and your body, if that and of course most of the time the drivers are speeding! This happened to me a few weeks ago as I just peeked out to see if it was clear and almost got my head taken off! And I was parked right in front of the first table at the Midway. I just won't go back until a solution to the parking is found.
    I also have worried about 'a tragedy just waiting to happen' with the street-side dining and the way drivers speed through that area; while adults and children dine without a care in the world, some with their backs to oncoming traffic. I pray it never happens but I think it's something to be considered! I don't think the new street scape added anything but a "quaint looking dining area" in town. That might be good for business but if the logistics don't work it's not good for business nor our citizen's safety.

  12. You could just buy a lot near those establishments and make a profit by charging people when they park or the establishments near you pay you a leasing fee for letting customers use the space.

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