DENVER -- The Cherry Creek Mall is now charging for parking.
While the first hour is free, shoppers will have to pay after that.
Mall management said they were forced to install paid parking because of the continued growth of the area. Many people were using the spaces, but not shopping at the mall.
“For years, we’ve been the free option,” said Mall General Manager Nick LeMasters, “but with this recent and increasing density, that’s put more pressure on our parking and so we’ve put a system into place to make sure that our customers have the advantage of the very best parking that we have available.”
LeMasters says the mall invested in a “Smart Parking System,” that will not only help patrons find an available parking space in the garage, it will help them find their car, if they forgot where they parked.
“It takes a picture of your license plate,” he said, “When you’re done shopping you go to a pay station, insert your ticket and key in your license plate number. We can tell what floor you’re parked on and what row you’re in.”
The G.M. said shoppers will punch a button at the front gate and will be issued a ticket.
They can then drive up to the garage and see signs detailing how many available spaces there are on each level.
Once they’re inside the garage, there will be electronic signs indicating how many available spaces there are in each row.
Green overhead puck lights will guide them to a space. Once the space is taken, the overhead light turns red.
But on Tuesday, many shoppers weren’t thinking of those conveniences. They were just thinking about the inconvenience of the new parking fees.
“It’s asinine. It’s absolutely crazy,” said Diane Schlegel. “I would rather drive to Flat Irons or to Park Meadows than to come here and pay for parking. I think it’s ridiculous.”
“I don’t mind paying when I go downtown,” said Treva Hancock, of Arvada, “but to come to a shopping center, I think I need to not have to pay, if it’s called a shopping center.”
“I don’t like this system,” said Jean Davenport. “I think it’s going to hurt merchants.”
Davenport says that instead of making everyone pay, the Mall should have hired someone to “mark the cars that were being abusive and boot them.”
“The Shopping Center would profit and so would the company,” she said.
LeMasters says that with more commercial and residential construction underway in the Cherry Creek area, parking will continue to be a premium.
“We want people to know that we value their time,” he said. “We want to make the parking experience as positive as we can, that’s why we’ve made this investment.
Shoppers will need to use cash, credit or debit cards. No coins will be accepted. Visitors can pay at one of the 27 kiosks or at the exit gate.
More information about smart parking is available on the Cherry Creek Shopping Center website.