SHARE
Courtesy of Facebook

The parking situation in the West 7th development has gone from bad to ridiculous. People visiting the newly branded Crockett Row at West 7th – a five-block collection of bars, restaurants, and retail outlets within the larger development – are complaining about their cars being towed from parking garages.

The latest complaint: People park in a garage, walk away, and then see their cars being towed away within minutes. Why? Well, the West 7th garages are intended for patrons visiting one or more of the West 7th development’s 30 “official” merchants. People have been led to believe that they can have their parking receipt validated by one of those merchants within a four-hour time limit for free parking. Not so. The fact is that if you park and do not “immediately” visit one of the 30, you’re liable to have your car towed.

When towing victims complained to parking attendants, they were shown signs that say the garages are for guests “immediately visiting” a Crockett Row merchant. Parking patrons seen visiting a nonofficial merchant first – even though they fully intended to visit an official merchant as well – say they had their cars towed.

losmocajetes-300x250

A parking victim we spoke with on the phone said she parked at a garage because she planned to party at Bar Louie, an official merchant. First, however, she popped into Bar 2909, a nonofficial merchant, to grab some friends. Twenty minutes later, they all headed to Bar Louie and hung out for more than two hours.

“When I got back, my car was gone,” she said.

She thinks she was seen by the parking attendant walking into the nonofficial bar and was towed immediately. Later, she said the attendant told her she should have moved her car out of the garage, gone to Bar 2909 to fetch her friends, and then re-parked in the garage before going to Bar Louie. How convenient and customer-friendly.

Another parking victim became so angry about her car being towed that she wrote a letter to Mayor Betsy Price and posted it on Facebook. The woman and her teenage daughter had parked with the intention of going to an official merchant candy shop but stopped first to buy a soda at Steel City Pops, a nonofficial merchant. Within about 10 minutes, she saw her car being towed, she said, despite being told by a parking attendant that she had up to four hours to have her parking receipt validated. The parking attendant directed her to a towing company on South Riverside Drive, she said.

“My daughter and I called for an Uber car to take us to the location,” the woman wrote. “It was a very dark, frightening place, and the Uber driver didn’t even want to leave us there. I don’t get scared easily, but my daughter and I were both fearful. I was charged $293.30 to get my car back.”

In her letter to Price, the woman described the towing practice as “predatory” and said it “gives visitors a bad taste for the city of Fort Worth.”

Late last year, we described how the West 7th garages began charging $20 to anyone parking without validation from an official merchant (“West 7th: Parallel Universe,” Dec 16). Few people knew about the policy change until they were told to fork over 20 bucks for parking in a garage for 45 minutes while visiting a nearby retailer.

Fort Worth-based developer Vestar created both the entertainment district and the garage rules. The new parking policy, stated on the website, says that guests parking in Crockett Row garages will be towed if they visit any other area restaurants or bars, at any point.

Believe it or not, some people visit West 7th to party and have fun without first pulling out magnifying glasses to read all of the small print buried on some developer’s website or on a sign hanging somewhere not instantly noticeable on a garage wall. Towing these people’s cars and forcing them to find a ride to a towing company late at night in a shady part of town to hand over $300 in extortion, er, towing fees is about as customer-friendly as slaying them with a ball-peen hammer.

Vestar’s general manager, Max Holderby, said the new parking policy went into effect on April 14 because of the shortage of parking in the area.

“We made this change to the policy because there has been a shortage of parking due to many non-Crockett Row restaurants and bars allowing their customers to park in the garages,” he said in an email to us.

He confirmed that parking attendants are watching whether patrons immediately visit an official merchant.

“We have attendants that monitor traffic and enforce the parking policy,” he wrote.

Holderby said about 3,800 cars park in Crockett Row garages in peak evening hours and that about five to 10 cars are towed on an average night. Five of those towings have led to court cases, he said.

“We have won four of the five cases,” he wrote.

Holderby is on the board of the Cultural District Alliance, a nonprofit group championing the area’s stakeholders. He said the group is meeting with city, school, and police officials to discuss the parking situation. One solution, he said, might be to establish an agreement with the Fort Worth school district and nearby Farrington Field for more parking.

46 COMMENTS

  1. The situation has gotten completely out of hand the last several years. When you mow down blocks that used to be available for parking for patrons and others, like myself, a professional pet sitter who must also find a place to park to go into these apartments to serve my clients, it makes things extremely difficult for all involved.

    It used to be a lot simpler when you had the extra parking lots and side streets but now that is gone, too.

    Where do you expect a lot of these people to park?

  2. how can the city let these businesses open with no parking for their customers a friend across town tried opening a business and to get a co he needed 12 parking spaces plus 1 for handycap

    • Many of them do provide parking, but certainly not enough for the people that frequent the business. If the businesses want as many as 200 patrons at the place, shouldn’t it be a rule that it at least provide half that many parking places? I went to one restaurant – I won’t name it, but the food was good! – there were tables and seats both inside and outside for well over 200 patrons. But there were about eight parking spots next to the place – one being handicapped. So, where is everyone supposed to park??

    • The last line of the black part of the sign says parking is $20 without validation. I would assume on your way out of the lot after a day of shopping you would either show your validated ticket or pay $20. The company would benefit because the fee would deter non-customers from parking there and bring in cash from those who are willing to pay to park.

      If you offer both validation and paid parking there should be no reason to tow. You can’t have it both ways and allow parking yet tow…sounds like the $20 is just for the cars the towing vultures miss.

  3. A clear cut case of cutting off their nose to spite their face. If I’m the developer, I wouldn’t want my garage to serve as parking for businesses not renting from me either. HOWEVER, I see that what I really want is increased foot traffic in the area. People want to come there to stroll, then go to eat, shop, then get a drink, hit Steel City Pops and mosey back to the car. If I know I’m going directly to a business in the W7th development, I may park there. If I know I’m risking $300 if I didn’t adhere to their ridiculous ‘immediate patronage rules’, then I’m just not going there at all.

  4. My wife just got towed Thursday night. I Took her the next day to get her car. It is a complete sham. I used to love going to 7th street. We will not go back. Unfortunately it will take a minute and by the time the area realizes the impact of these decisions & leadership, the damage will have been done. It’s so disappointing to see the short term want how pace the long term gain.

  5. I concur John Spivey, if I had understood my truck would be towed in 12 minutes of validation of ticket, on a Thursday non busy night after I walked in a direction where the man could no longer stalk me aka “the scout” I would never have parked there. I believe the city has a right to protect its citizens by blasting a public announcement to not park there unless immediate patronage happens. In my case I visited several places including the ones on the list. However, my truck was towed in less than 12 minutes. Funny how a quad cab Ram 1500 which was backed in with the emergency break on, 7 spots from the entrance was towed downtown Riverside in 12 minutes. Someone had to have a skeleton key. It’s a front drive vehicle, if they pulled it from the spot there would be rubber from the tires on the ground.

    I hope someone can stop this. I have filed my complaint with the city, provided my documentation and are waiting my day in court.

  6. Maybe if the management of this development didn’t spend so much time worrying about screwing over customers for parking money, they could figure out how to keep businesses in their property. I’ve watched so many restaurants open and shut down and change hands since West 7th has opened that it is becoming laughable. Yet they keep building it out even as once viable sections now stand empty from places that could not last.

  7. Farrington Field is not a solution since it is a significant walk. Are they going to run a shuttle and charge per person? Think about the nightmare on a football night at Farrington, which would be a Friday. The shuttles during Concerts in the Garden are $10 per car and I do not expect the cost to be any less if this outfit does work out a deal.

  8. Bye, bye, West 7th. My wife and I eat out 2-3 nights a week and have frequented the area’s restaurants shops together and with guests. Never more. Hello, Clearfork, Downtown, Magnolia, South Main, Race Street, et.al.

  9. What’s more, the law allows towing companies to not charge more than $200 per towing. They get around this by adding on a storage fee of about another $100. This is a loophole which should be closed because it does not obey the spirit of the law.

  10. They are turning West 7th into every shady apartment complex in the metroplex. They hooked up with a crooked towing company to tow away “violators” and say it’s so they can make sure they have empty spaces. What they fail to tell you is that they are getting a very large cut of that $300 towing fee. They are doing it to pad their pocket and for no other reason. They know the law and know how to cercomvent it. They will do every shady thing they can to make an extra buck, included stealing people’s cars under the disguise of “rules clearly posted.” Except they are problem only posted in one place and it’s probably not very clear and obvious when you are driving, and the attendant probably never says anything about it at all. My advice is to stop parking there, and to stop shopping and visiting the establishments that rent parking there, writing to them to tell them why. When they loose their tennents for their poor behavior, they will change it.

  11. If Vestar wants to drive their tenants out of business at that location, this is certainly an effective way to go about it. Penny wise and pound foolish is no way to run a business.

  12. Farrington Field is not remotely close enough to be a solution. If people wanted to walk they wouldn’t risk parking in that particular structure, they would just park and walk. They want to remain in that 5 block area and meander there without having to worry about hiking back to the car. It’s just going to drive business away from the area. Why deal with that kind of parking restriction when they can go downtown (and for free on the weekends) or go down into the TCU area. Maybe not the same businesses in those areas but at least a similar variety and without the hassle. I understand getting your money from people parking, but not the extortion racket they clearly have going on.

  13. Go there every now and then, now they’ve lost me 100%. Not worth the hassle. Keep your garage, your shuttles etc.. plenty of other places to go.

      • They were “showed” vs shown.
        $300 i[s] extortion
        Ball peen (pein) *I have since realized both spellings are acceptable.

        • You got us on the “showed” spelling, which I have corrected.

          You misread the extortion sentence, which is grammatically correct as printed. “Towing these people’s cars and forcing them to find a ride to a towing company late at night in a shady part of town to hand over $300 in extortion, er, towing fees is about as customer-friendly as slaying them with a ball-peen hammer.”

  14. This happened to me once and it was the very last time I visited the West 7th area as a result. Let your money do the talking and this kind of crap will stop. Make no mistake, the garage is getting a nice kickback from the towing company for having their attendants make these calls and getting your vehicle towed. It’s predatory, crooked, and wrong. Let them and the “official” merchants that support this get driven out of business and it will change. As long as people put up with it and continue to frequent them it will continue.

  15. Sounds like a scheme a towing company cooked up and I would be willing to bet the garage is getting a kickback on those fees. It is predatory and the city should take action.

  16. I live around the corner on Lafayette and Montgomery and I’m ignoring that entire strip because of the number of evening’s they’ve ruined with dates and friends.

  17. I go to Dallas more often than I hang out in Fort Worth. There’s a lot more different areas to hang out and I’ve never seen anything like this over there. The area is pretty much a glorified stip mall anyway with constant retail & restaurant turnovers.

  18. Congratulations, folks! Welcome to High Density Urban Development where everything is at your fingertips! WALKING DISTANCE TO EVERYTHING. Get that?? WALKING DISTANCE! This is all part of their “walkability” plan, to make these areas less congested with cars (those evil things that pollute the air). This is Besty’s baby!

  19. The list of validating restaurants is not accurate. My family and I went the other day and parked and then realized Fireside Pies was not on the list and figured we’d be charged a $20 fee later. Instead, Fireside Pies did validate it even though they weren’t officially printed on that list. A little misleading. And can’t believe they are stalking us!

  20. I agree that the parking situation on a 7th is a full-blown dumpster fire, but you guys that are acting like you’re Perry f-ing Mason for figuring out that the developer gets a cut of the impound fee are cracking me up. They contract with the towing company for this service. They don’t just show up and start towing cars unsolicited. Of all of the shady aspects of this operation, that’s one thing that isn’t.

  21. I can concur on every bit of this. Shady of the city to allow/run this operation. My friends and I were watched and photographed. Come on CITY OF FORT WORTH, I’m ashamed of you. This isn’t what you want to be associated with, regardless of what kind of money you’re making off of it. Stop it.

  22. We go there from time to time. No more. Don’t need the stress. Job is stressful enough. Don’t need stress while out having fun. Plenty of other places to go in the area to go.

  23. I got dinged with the $20 parking for a 15 minute stop in for Steel City Pops. Now I’m counting my blessings that I didn’t get screwed over by a tow. After paying $1+ per minute to park we decided that the West 7th development just isn’t worth going to anymore. This is something they’d do in Dallas.

    Plenty of other great places to go in Fort Worth. I just can’t list them here because then y’all would all show up over there and ruin that parking situation too!

  24. The sign doesn’t say you will be towed if you do not visit one of the listed merchants immediately, it says $20 without validation. That’s very misleading. According to the wording on the sign, shouldn’t they just be charged $20 instead of being towed?

  25. According to the Texas Department of Licensing, that sight is not legal notice of towing. Any tow occurring would be illegal. This would only be held up in court IF the prosecution brings it up.

  26. Greed. Developer is in charge of parking rules? And by the way its not 3 or 4 cars a night. Few weeks back i ate dinner at cork and pig. I was leaving around 9:30 my ticket was validated. When i got the garage i saw 4 tow trucks simultaneously towing cars. It was like an assembly line. It was 9:30 by 2am prob 30 – 40 cars. Im sure he also has a kick back system setup with towing company.
    Ppl like this are savages like this developer guy. And business are too stupid to see the big pic. Its not enough that wveryone will come there and spend ton of money and even pay perhaps 20$ a car for parking. No they wanna rip you off more so they can make more. In the end they will lose customers because of parking. Its lack of business knowledge because dev is a clown.

LEAVE A REPLY