Parking a top concern as courthouse opens

Area businesses also look for boost

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As the new Duval County Courthouse opened Monday, parking was one of the main concerns.

Just ask Elise Rigdon, who headed downtown to file some paperwork.

"Well, I circled around two or three times trying to find a parking spot," Rigdon said. "I'm not about to pay $8 a day to park, and I don't know how much they charge per hour."

Rigdon said she needed her car to be close because it's tough for her to walk.

She's not alone.

Even downtown business owners noticed a difference on Day One.

"It's going to be interesting to see how all this pans out," said Paul Ganim, who owns Akel's Deli nearby. "I think it may be a good business for someone to get into."

There are several options for parking. There's street parking for 50 cents an hour, there's a parking lot directly across from the courthouse for $2 an hour and $1.50 for every hour after that, and then there's the choice of a parking garage. The closest one to the new courthouse is $2 an hour and up to a maximum of $8 a day.

"Fortunately, I have reserved parking, so I don't have to worry about that," said David Wurzel, who owns a nearby processing company. "It doesn't seem as bad as I thought it would be."

The city said it has cleared plenty of metered spots across the street. It still costs money, and nearby workers say it's much busier than usual.

"Parking is going to be tighter, that's for sure," said Terrence Doyle, who noticed the issue on his lunch break.

It ultimately will be left up to drivers to decide how much they're willing to pay to park.

As for area businesses, there aren't many located directly across from the new courthouse, which gives people at the courthouse limited options when it comes to a lunch break. But workers in the area are hopeful that business will start booming soon now that the new courthouse is open.

"We're hoping that we'll get a huge influx of customers," Ganim said. "We're hoping for very long lines and very happy people."

Courthouse workers are happy to have Ganim's restaurant about a block away, but they're hoping things will change soon.

"It's difficult to find somewhere to have lunch, and then the ones that you can go to, there's a lot of people in there," said Mary Coker, who works at the courthouse.

It's not just restaurants some people are hoping for. They also want to see stores or something that can help revitalize and bring more activity to the area.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.