Traverse City Approves Downtown Valet Pilot Program to Ease Parking Worries

Finding parking in downtown Traverse City can be tricky. Monday night, the City Commission approved a program to free up space and make parking more accessible to visitors and locals.

The city will implement a valet service downtown starting Wednesday. The plan is part of an 11 week, experimental pilot program.

“We’ve been looking for opportunities for parking and looking … to make it easier,” said Jean Derenzy, CEO of the Downtown Development Authority. “People that circle the blocks have a perceived idea that there’s a lack of parking.”

Some people who work downtown say that there is not enough parking, and this idea could help alleviate the hassle of trying to find a spot.

“There’s not enough available, especially on the weekends when it’s busy in town,” said Chelsey Schlicht, who works downtown. “It’d be nice if there were lots [of spots] people could park in.”

The valet will park in private spaces and surfaces, freeing up public parking spots.

“They’ll be parking the cars in a private area…which will free up public parking spots for anyone else that doesn’t ever use the valet,” said Derenzy.

Derenzy says the Downtown Development Authority will collect data on the use of the valet, and use it to inform how to improve the program. That research will help the city consider moving forward with a permanent valet service. Derenzy and her team will track who is using the service, locals or tourists, as well as the most popular times to use the valet, and the reasons for using it.

“Data [will identify] the destination of the valet user. Are they going to a movie, or a restaurant?” said Derenzy.”

The service is meant to make parking more accessible. Although some people, including tourist Tim Loso, do not see a problem with the existing availability of parking.

“[Parking] was easy to find,” said Loso. “If [public] parking was available, I probably wouldn’t use the valet, we don’t mind walking. “

The valet service will be located at 237 East State Street near the State Theater. It starts Wednesday night and will run 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. for the duration of the pilot program. It will cost $12.