Public valet services to be offered at hotel
By Kevin Elliott
Shoppers won’t have to be guests of the Daxton Hotel, 298 S. Old Woodward, in order to use its valet parking service when it opens its doors for business in February, under a public-private partnership approved on Monday, January 11, by the Birmingham City Commission.
The public valet service near 210 S. Old Woodward, will be moved to the Daxton Hotel and remain available to the public at its current rate of $5. The agreement will allow for the removal of four on-street parking spaces in order to accommodate the service, which will be operated by Woodward Brown Ventures, which submitted an application with the city in May for a valet license.
Richard Rattner, an attorney for the business, said Woodward Brown Ventures' agreement would save the city nearly $40,000 per year. The city currently pays about $750 per week for valet service near 210 S. Old Woodward, near the now-closed Vinotecca. Further, Rattner said the Daxton includes on-site parking, forgoing the need for spaces in the city’s public parking lots or structures.
“We run a very professional valet service in this hotel, and we have a lot of experience doing it,” Rattner said. “When approaching the city, we were told we would’ve have the same terms and conditions, but no better, than the public stand.”
Birmingham Police Commander Scott Grewe said the current valet station receives about 100 customer per week, referring to 2020 figures after the impact of COVID-19. The removal of the four metered parking spaces would mean a loss of some parking revenue, which could amount to $22,464 per year, if each meter were occupied during all available hours.
While city commissioners were initially receptive of the agreement, there was concern over the day-to-day operation of the valet services. Specifically, commissioners questioned how the public would know the service is available to all motorists.
City commissioner Rackeline Hoff said she liked the price reduction, but asked how the city would make the public aware of the service. “It would be highly unusual to give your car to a hotel valet if you’re not going to the hotel,” she said.
Commissioner Clinton Baller agreed, and questioned whether it would be appropriate to charge different parking rates for hotel guests and the public.
“If we do it, it should be crystal clear and displayed that this is a city operation,” he said. “And that prices are displayed.”
Commissioner Mark Nickita also said shoppers wouldn’t expect the hotel to provide public valet services. He asked Grewe if the department could track how often available public parking meters in front of the hotel would be taken out of service for special events, thus reducing available public parking.
Commissioner Stuart Sherman said that while he had some concerns about the situation, the agreement allows the city to terminate the deal at its discretion. “We are in control here … I suggest we give staff leeway to make adjustments as it develops. The hotel opens in February. Give them a chance to try it out and adjust.”
Commissioners approved the agreement by a vote of 5-1, with Hoff voting against it, and mayor Pierre Boutros requesting to abstain from the issue due to a potential conflict of interest.