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  • By Lisa Brody

Birmingham looking to keep valet service

The valet service begun by the city of Birmingham during the Old Woodward construction period has proved to be such a success, the city wants to continue it, and has issued a request for proposal (RFP) in order to get the best price for the service.

During the months of construction on Old Woodward and parts of Maple, the city offered four valet stands throughout the city to encourage people to come into the city and shop, dine and do business. After the five-month construction period, the city's ad hoc parking committee decided to continue the on-street valet program for a six-month trial period, condensing the four stands down to the two most used areas, on S. Old Woodward, in front of Vinotecca restaurant, and on Hamilton, by Greek Island restaurant.

During the construction period, the first two hours of valet were free, and consecutive hours were $5 an hour. During the six-month trial period, valet cost $5 for the first two hours, with consecutive hours at $5 each. The only exception was for five weeks during the holidays, when the Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) offered the first two hours for free.

“We have seen demand at about 700 cars or so a month,” said assistant city manager Tiffany Guether. “Right now, it is increasing, especially as temperatures are dropping. There is also increasing awareness of the valets.”

BSD Executive Director Ingrid Tighe said the valets have been very well-received. “The holiday valet went really well for us, both in front of Vinotecca and on Hamilton,” she said. “We averaged more than 500 cars a week for that five-week period. Moving the two stands to where they are now, we saw greater usage, so that's really great. We saw a significant increase after we moved it to those locations.”

Since the valet program began last spring, Birmingham has utilized the services of In-House Valet, and has been satisfied.

“We had selected them because we had used them during construction. They have done a great job,” Guenther said. “We now want to do it by competitive bid.”

She said the city is looking for the best value for the service.

The RFP is due back to the city on Monday, January 21, and the ad hoc parking committee will meet on Wednesday, February 6. Guenther said it will likely come before the city commission sometime in late February or early March.

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