If you’ve driven around downtown Huntsville lately, you may have noticed more hustle and bustle than usual. A combination of must-try nightspots and restaurants, as well as unique shops, are pulling longtime residents and visitors into the heart of the City.
Improved sidewalks are enhancing pedestrian access, but vehicle traffic is still the norm. And because cars and trucks can’t be (legally) left in the street, they need a place to park.
Confused about where to go? Drivers can park in City-owned garages, surface lots or metered street spots. Just look for the way-finding signs outside garages and surface lots, which feature a “P” with a circle around it.
Whether you prefer to pull in, back in or parallel park, Huntsville has ample options downtown and is working to add more. Quisha Bryant, director of Parking and Public Transit, offered some common-sense advice for downtown parkers.
“Always arrive early before an event,” she said. “Event lots and garages close one hour after the end of the event. Always lock your doors and do not leave valuables in your car.”
There are currently six City parking garages with a capacity of 4,337 spaces:
- Garage A: Municipal Parking Garage – 300 Madison St. SW
- Garage B: Fountain Circle – 318 Fountain Circle SW
- Garage D: Holmes Avenue – 300 Holmes Ave.
- Garage M: Big Spring – 100 Church St. SW
- Garage O: Central City – 116 Clinton Ave. SE
- Garage T: Twickenham – 300 St. Clair Ave. SW
One of those, Garage A, is slated to be demolished this fall to make room for a new Huntsville municipal building and parking garage. About 512 spaces will be lost, but about 700 will be gained when Garage M opens to the public. Plans for the old Coca-Cola bottling site on Clinton Avenue also include a mixed-use development and 300-unit garage.
“We continually monitor demand and look at other potential sites for parking,” Bryant said.
Some drivers prefer to park in garages, especially on a hot summer day, but there are 550 metered spaces on downtown streets and more than 1,200 parking spaces in City-owned lots:
- Lot E – 209 Eustis St. SE
- Lot H – Jefferson Street
- Lot K – 620 Clinton Ave. SW
- Lot P – 816 Wheeler Ave. NW
- Lot P (Overflow East and West) – Wheeler Avenue
- Lot U – 215 Green St. SW
- Lot Z – Church Street
- Meridian Street
“We are adding more parking meters that accept credit cards, both single and double-head meters and multispace pay stations,” Bryant said, adding there’s an app that allows people to pay for parking at metered spaces. The Passport Parking app can be found in the iTunes and Google Play stores.
It isn’t just surface parking receiving technology upgrades – the City is also updating parking equipment in the garages to the TIBA Parking Systems, which will feature cutting-edge technology.
“The garage gates will include license plate recognition to recognize our monthly parkers and open the gate automatically when they pull up,” Bryant said. “It will also help with lost tickets as we will have a record of when a car entered our garage. We are also updating our security cameras in our garages and lots.”
The technology updates and additional garages represent a win-win for both downtown visitors and businesses looking to bounce back after the pandemic. Chad Emerson, president and CEO of Downtown Huntsville, Inc., said safe, convenient parking is an important part of the downtown experience.
“This is one reason that the new downtown parking garages are so exciting to see,” he said. “They incorporate advanced payment technology, lighting and decorative exteriors to make the city center parking experience better than ever.”