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  • By Lisa Brody

Valet services to be extended in Birmingham

With the Old Woodward construction nearing a conclusion, Birmingham city commissioners unanimously approved continuing the on-street valet program for a six-month trial period, the valet assist rooftop program at the parking garages, as well as setting aside an area on the first level of the parking garages for three-hour visitors, and not monthly parkers, at their meeting on Monday, July 23. In a memo, assistant city manager Tiffany Gunter showed a comparison of rooftop valet use from April, May and June of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. In April 2017, only five cars used rooftop valet, compared to 96 in April 2018, a 1,820 percent increase. In May 2017, 27 cars used the rooftop valet, while in May 2018, 234 cars did, a 767 percent increase. In June 2017, 64 cars utilized the service; in June 2018, 239 drivers availed themselves of rooftop valet, a 273 percent increase. The rooftop valet is available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Drivers can retrieve their keys from the office in the Chester garage after that time. “We require that monthly permit holders use the roof top valet assist program to create additional capacity in the parking system by an additional 250 spaces whenever the garage reaches capacity,” Gunter wrote in her memo. However, city manager Joe Valentine said at the commission meeting the rooftop valet “is not designed for people with permits. It's intended for more transient parkers.” The cost for signage for the rooftop valet and the three-hour maximum parking signage in all garages as an ongoing programs will be $3,112 a month, or $33,768 annually, which commissioners approved. Commissioners were then presented with a recommendation from the advisory parking committee to continue the on-street valet services from In-House Valet for a six month trial period after the construction period ends, at two locations. While on-street valet has been free for the first two hours during construction, with the Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) paying the valet company $6,500 a week for four stands, five days a week. In the new set up, users will be charged for the first two hours, $5 for two hours, and an additional $5 an hour after that. However, to continue the program for six months will still cost the city $36,000, Gunter explained. The BSD would pay $10,000 of that, with the remainder, $26,000 to come from the city's parking fund, to support two valet stands. She said that In-House recommended one stand to be located at the south side of the city, by Rivage Day Spa, and the other in the northern part, possibly on Hamilton. “If this works out, we may come back with a revised plan with more stops,” Valentine said. Commissioner Patty Bordman countered that “people get used to going to a certain place. I think it should be in a place where you think it could stay.” Valentine said they would defer to valet company's recommendation. Based on current usage, the Hamilton stand, in front of Greek Island, currently gets about 310 vehicles a week; the N. Old Woodward location, by Fleming's, gets about 200 cars; at Old Woodward and Brown Street, around 110 cars a week; and at Henrietta and Maple, 77 vehicles a week. Bordman asked if the money spent on valet and rooftop valet services is usually spent on upkeep of the parking structures, and Valentine answered that it would not impact the usual maintenance. “This has worked out wonderful,” commissioner Rackeline Hoff commented on the valet services.

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