Business owners in the West 7th corridor are doing the happy-jig after reaching an agreement with the school district to lease the large parking lot at the school district’s Farrington Field nearby. Many of the businesses don’t have parking lots. Curbside parking is scarce. And the area’s parking garages are open only to motorists shopping at certain businesses, the ones owned by the West 7th Development. Park in the garage by mistake? Your car is towed.
The lack of parking and the bad vibe from towing were threatening to kill the enthusiasm that makes the area the city’s most thriving party scene.
Beginning Thursday, Oct 5, visitors will be allowed to park in any one of Farrington Field’s 1,400 spots for $10 per car. The parking lot will be open 10pm-3am Thu-Sat, allowing people to park their vehicles in a safe and lighted place and walk across West Lancaster Avenue to West 7th (or cross underneath the bridge on Foch Street).
“It is creating a centralized parking option for everybody,” said James Hoffman, owner of Varsity Tavern, one of the highest billing bars in not just Fort Worth but all of Texas. “You don’t have to worry about getting towed or validated.”
Critics are chiming in on social media.
“People would have to walk across Lancaster from Farrington,” a local journalist wrote. “We don’t walk anywhere here in FW.”
He also said (without sarcasm), “We don’t pay to park here in FW. Problem not solved.”
The distance from Farrington Field to Fred’s Texas Café, a bar/restaurant that’s close to the middle of the entertainment area, is less than half a mile. Visitors could reach about any destination in less than a mile.
Some people are more than willing to park far away and walk if it means avoiding parking fees. Will they pay $10 and still have to walk? We’ll see. But it seems if they are willing to drive around in endless circles looking for non-existing curbside parking, they’d be willing to pay 10 bucks to avoid the hassle.
Besides, the biggest threat to the parking arrangement isn’t being mentioned. In years past, the lot has been used to provide parking for the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, an event that makes city officials practically explode from their shorts in excitement every year. City leaders are so beholden to the Stock Show that, years ago, they decided to axe all the free parking in the Cultural District and start charging exorbitant parking fees year-round. Businesses in the area complained that the fees drove away customers.
Why would city officials do that? To raise money to pay for a $27 million parking garage that is needed about three weeks a year during the Stock Show.
The lease agreement between Farrington Field and the West 7th businesses is described as a temporary trial arrangement that is set to expire in mid-January, just prior to the start of the Stock Show. If Stock Show officials decide they want that parking lot, we’ll be willing to bet a Fredburger that they get it, and the West 7th bar owners will be told to take a hike.