ANCHORAGE (KTUU)- In Downtown Anchorage, recent talk of a change in designated loading zones is drawing negative reactions from some hotels and businesses. Easy Park is preparing to convert up several of these zones into around four dozen metered parking spaces, after discovering that certain hotels have managed to go decades without paying the fees required to utilize public space as a loading zone.
Andrew Halcro is the director of the Anchorage Community Development Authority, which operates Easy Park. He says the businesses that currently utilize unpaid spaces as loading zones will have the option to continuing doing so if they elect to pay the going rate- approximately $300 per single space/ monthly.
"Hopefully what this will do is get hotels to look at their loading zones and say 'You know what? We don't need an entire city block. We can do with half a block,' and then whatever they decide that they need, they can pay the going rate." Halcro said. "No one is taking away hotel loading zones, but the public has been subsidizing the largest hotels in town for parking tour buses in the summer."
Easy Park will also allow the hotels in question to reserve spaces seasonally.
"They can come to us and say 'We only need tour bus parking during four months out of the year,' and we will only charge them for four months of the year. For the other eight months, we will put up meters," Halcro said.
Of the hotels that will be impacted by the changes, the Hotel Captain Cook currently utilizes the most space for unpaid loading zones. KTUU reached out to their offices today but were denied comments regarding the matter.
Other businesses, like the tour buses that often occupy those spaces, will also be impacted. Lisa Kruse, the director of sales and marketing for Phillips's Cruises and Tours, provided KTUU with the following statement: "Tourism is an important part of the economy in Anchorage, and we should make sure that our visitors have ease of access. We are still gathering information regarding the current situation at this time and hope to learn more in the coming weeks."
Halcro says the next step for Easy Park is to sit down with all of the affected hotels next week to come up with a plan. According to a notice sent out by the Anchorage Community Development Authority- changes could take place as early as March 1.
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