CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At the request of Mayor Danny Jones and the owner of a new sports bar, City Council members are weighing a plan to shift nighttime free parking along Virginia Street downtown from one side to the other.For years, downtown visitors -- often patrons of Capitol Street clubs -- have been able to park for free on the left, or north side, of Virginia Street between Laidley and Hale streets from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.Parking is forbidden in that area during the rest of the day, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., when the north side serves as an extra lane for traffic.But under a bill introduced to council Sept. 4, the nighttime parking zone would be shifted to the south side of Virginia Street. Council was poised to pass the measure Monday but, at Jones' request, they tabled it for further work.
"That was my request," Jones said of the bill Monday. "I'd like to table it until I can work things out with the players involved."Contacted on Tuesday, Jones said he was asked to change the parking by Keith McClanahan of BBL Carlton, whose company is in the midst of a $15 million renovation of the downtown Ramada. A sister company, BBL Hospitality, bought the hotel last year.McClanahan said the new parking arrangement would help the hotel's restaurant, the Recovery Sports Grill, which is set to open next week. The business faces Virginia Street."To-go orders, take-out orders, it would be a lot safer to have [parking] over here, to close this lane," he said. "And there is a secondary entrance to the hotel. It would probably help us."McClanahan said he spoke to Jones two or three weeks ago. "I brought it up -- would it be possible. I try to think of any negatives to it."Jones said he asked to table the measure Monday because there are about five fewer parking spaces on the south side of the street, mainly in the block between Capitol and Hale."We're trying to keep it the same number. I'm going to go over there this week."I think [parking] belongs over there," Jones said, "and it will help the hotel. A lot of people will enter the hotel. I've run it by the other people down there. It's not necessary for Bar 101 or the Japanese restaurant. It might make it easier for them."But to move it over, it might help the hotel." Reach Jim Balow at email@example.com or 304-348-5102.