Parking headache hits downtown Ocala

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 4:39 PM EST
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OCALA, Fla. (WCJB) - It’s a growing pain that is being felt by many people who visit downtown Ocala.

Parking has become harder with the opening of the new Hilton Garden Inn.

“In 2015 the Hilton did work with us to get a contract to obviously build the hotel downtown. Part of that agreement was they would then lease 120 spaces within the downtown parking garage to help serve their guests,” Marketing and Communication Manager for the City of Ocala Ashley Dobbs said.

Hotel guests will be given a parking pass to park in the reserved area.

For now, if visitors park on the hotel side without a pass, they will receive a warning from security.

“Right now we are simply providing warnings. We’re letting people know that these are designated spaces meant for the hotel and we ask that people are respectful of that and allow the people that are checking into the hotel to use these designated spaces,” Dobbs added.

The entire west side of the parking garage has been sectioned off on all levels and for some residents like John Long who use the parking garage everyday, it’s been a little confusing.

“So far it’s added confusion definitely down here in the garage, with people not knowing exactly what parts are Hilton, which parts are City of Ocala. I think once they’re marked it’ll definitely make a difference for the citizens and the Hilton guests,” Long said.

There are a total of 402 parking spots in the parking garage and with the Hilton leasing 120 of those spots, that leaves only 282 for the public to use.

“It’s a little annoying, but I think that there’s enough space up top you just have to drive little bit more. I usually park down below but that’s always packed now because no one can park there,” Ocala Resident Trent Linn said.

And if the parking garage were to run out of space, there is also meter and time limited parking available. According to the city’s website, there are roughly 1,600 parking spaces throughout the downtown.

For metered parking, a nickel will get you six minutes, for 12 minutes you’ll need a dime and a quarter will give you 30 minutes.

Other road projects are also in the works city officials said to add more parking to the downtown area.

“There are several parking projects right now were we’re actually reducing two lanes to one lane and creating even more parking spaces for street parking, so it is something that we are working on,” Dobbs said.

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