Fort Worth to Lease City Parking Lot to Museums

Change's goal is to boost attendance, support cultural district

By Chris Van Horne
|  Tuesday, Sep 11, 2012  |  Updated 7:34 PM CDT
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Paying to park in the museum district is causing complaints for some businesses in the area, but the city council will vote on a new parking lot where the price to park will be tiered based on how long you've stayed.

Chris Van Horne, NBC 5 Fort Worth Reporter

Paying to park in the museum district is causing complaints for some businesses in the area, but the city council will vote on a new parking lot where the price to park will be tiered based on how long you've stayed.

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The Fort Worth City Council is expected to approve a deal to lease a city-owned parking lot to a group of museums to help boost attendance.

There have been complaints and concerns since the city began charging for parking around the museums in the Will Rogers Memorial Complex two years ago.

Many of the museums have reported reduced attendance with walk-ins and season pass-holders left with few options but to pay the $5 flat rate for their trips to the museums.

At Z's Cafe inside the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, business was so bad that co-owner Carlo Capua opened up a second location on Pennsylvania Avenue and Henderson Street in the hospital district just to get his employees enough work and keep his business alive.

"Our business in the Cultural District has dropped by about 90 percent, so it's had a real adverse effect, and we're happy to see the City Council is recognizing that something needs to be done," Capua said.

The council will consider Tuesday night a deal in which the Museum of Science and History, the Cowgirl Museum, Community Arts Center and Cattle Raisers Museum would lease the South Lot of the Will Rogers Memorial Complex.

The lot is home to 200-plus spaces, and the group would pay $12,000 per year for the next 30 years. The price to park will also change from a flat rate to a tiered system, and museum members could receive discounts.

"I think it's a good deal for them," said Councilman Dennis Shingleton, who supports the deal. "It's probably not the best deal for the city. But it's a concession the city, and council will choose to make in order to assist them with their attendance."

The south lot would not be the only location where parking fees would change in the near future. Shingleton said the council will discuss next week the tiered prices for other lots in the Will Rogers Complex.

The hope is that lowering the prices there and at the lot leased to the museums would cause attendance to rise, allowing the city to break even on the deal. Even if the city doesn't, it's still worth it, Shingleton said.

"The entire effort, of course, is to make sure the Will Rogers Complex is user-friendly," he said.

The group of museums declined to comment to NBC 5 on Tuesday, saying a statement and comments would be made on Thursday following the council's Tuesday vote.

At Z's Cafe, Capua said he appreciates that the council is taking action.

"It's good to see the City Council has made this a priority to take care of the culture in the cowboys and culture," Capua said, referencing the city's slogan.

The vote is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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