JEFFERSONVILLE — As the rebirth of downtown Jeffersonville continues to transform the cityscape, growing pains are to be expected.
Now that a new entertainment venue is coming to the area, one of those pains is at the forefront of the mind's of some residents and business owners — parking.
Developer Steve Resch, owner of Resch Construction, is planning to open the venue near the corner of Pearl and West Chestnut streets, just behind Parlour. Right now, Resch said not many details are available, as he is still in the planning stages, having hired architects to do landscape and structural work on the properties.
"We’re waiting to get drawings back on both of those," Resch said. "It’s going to be a restaurant and entertainment-type venue. I can’t tell you much at this point, but it will involve the yellow house, the green [and white] house and the parking lot.”
The parking lot, which sits behind Parlour directly across the alley from Preservation Station, isn't one of Jeffersonville's largest. The prospect of its removal, however, has concerned some in the surrounding area.
Cafe 223 opened just across Pearl Street from the parking lot this past May. Owner Carol Stenbro said that parking in the area is already a problem without the removal of the lot.
Given the cafe's location within the city, Stenbro said losing more parking spots could potentially have a negative impact on business.
“Parking is definitely an issue downtown, with residential parking only in some areas of the streets and so forth," Stenbro said. "There’s really not a whole lot of parking left once you take all of that away. We’re dependent on pedestrians, and that cuts way down on business when there's bad weather, rainy weather or when it’s cold. We need more parking."
Cafe manager Kellsy Olson said that issues with parking are amplified on certain days or when special events take place at Big Four Station Park and the surrounding area.
“When I’m trying to get here on a Saturday and the farmers market is going on, there’s absolutely nowhere to park as is," Olson said. "If anything, they should take empty space and make a parking lot. Personally, I think it’s a terrible idea. As it is, there’s nowhere to park on a busy day."
Lynn Rhodea, owner of Pearl Street Treats, had conflicted feelings about the project. While she likes the fact that Jeffersonville is continuing its upward trajectory, she said she hates to see parking disappear.
A majority of her business comes from the walking bridge, she said, but they always try to keep their parking spot directly in front of the building open for their customers who drive.
“I don’t think it will have an impact financially, at least I hope not, but convenience-wise, yes," Rhodea said. "Parking is really at a premium, especially on this street with all the resident parking. There’s very little parking for people visiting businesses or visiting downtown Jeffersonville. That parking lot is very convenient for people."
One of the buildings was sold to Resch by Rita Fleming, president of the Jeffersonville Main Street board of directors. Though recognizing that parking is indeed an issue, Fleming said that the city is walkable and pedestrian-friendly — attributes it should continue to focus on as more developments pop up.
“When you think of downtown in any city, there’s always a question of parking," Fleming said. "When you put it in perspective, downtown people expect to walk 10 feet to the doors of where they're going. If you’re in a mall during holiday season, you’re going to walk a lot farther than that, and people don’t complain. Certainly for individuals who have trouble going longer distances, it’s an issue. We’re a very walkable community. We’re pedestrian friendly. Maybe we should start thinking about how we can make our community more bike and pedestrian friendly so people will come to our area without undue hardship, even as our city continues to flourish."
Resch noted that from his perspective, the lot is mostly used by Parlour employees and some of its patrons. Once everything is all said and done, he doesn't believe its absence will cause any problems.
“It is a good project," Resch said. "It’ll be an asset and a destination for downtown Jeff.”