VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Parking in downtown Valdosta can be a challenge, but new options are coming. City officials have determined a location for the new downtown parking deck.
However, the new structure has some local business owners concerned.
"We've been in downtown 58 years and we've been through several construction projects," said Tommy McNeal, manager at Laws Furniture.
Now the folks at Law's Furniture, along with several other businesses, will endure yet another downtown construction project.
"It's been very tough during construction phases where business is very tough because it's hard to get in and out of the downtown area at that time," McNeal recalled from previous projects.
The city voted to build the new parking deck at the site of the Toombs Street parking lot, which is directly behind many stores.
"That is the area where we have the highest concentration of businesses and also where we have the greatest parking need. On an average day the business is filled to capacity," said city manager Larry Hanson.
The parking lot is nearly always full right now, so businesses are concerned about where patrons and employees will park during construction.
"The city will try to make adjustments, but it's still tough for a small business," said McNeal.
City officials said they are looking at creative ways to help ease the construction headache.
"Having some golf carts and hiring some students to transport people, if we have to have a parking lot a little further away, to the area of business," explained Hanson.
However, store owners said they still expect to see a drop in business once the project breaks ground.
"People want convenience. So, if it's going to make people go out of the way than it's going to affect business," McNeal said.
Once completed, the new parking deck will add several hundred parking spaces to downtown. So officials say it's worth the growing pains.
"It's important to see the end," said Hanson, "what the benefit will be to have the parking deck."
The city hopes the new hotel, parking deck, and city center will be open by December 2017.