Free parking is about to end at one of Tacoma’s most popular shopping and entertainment destinations.
Starting next month, it will cost $2 per hour to park in the Point Ruston parking garage, which has about 600 spaces. In mid-May, paid parking will extend to the 400 or so spots outside the garage.
That’s on both the Ruston and Tacoma sides of the 97-acre waterfront development, according to information from the project developer.
Paid parking is going in soon in preparation for the more popular spring and summer seasons, according to an emailed statement from Point Ruston developer Loren Cohen.
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“We want to ensure that we are prepared to provide priority parking for visitors and guests of the businesses at Point Ruston,” the statement says.
When reached late Monday, several merchants said they were unaware of the change.
“I don’t think people are going to want to pay for the parking,” said Elisabetta O’Shea, owner of Dolce Si, an Italian bakery and gelateria at Point Ruston.
In the summer, O’Shea said, people can spend several hours at the development for dinner, dessert and a stroll along the waterfront. “People are going to start watching the clock.”
The development reported on its website that a parking monitor has been enforcing a two-hour limit for retail street parking “to alleviate parking congestion.”
“Point Ruston is transitioning to a paid parking system,” according to the website. “Stay tuned for all details.”
Roads through Point Ruston are private, so the developer is allowed to charge for parking there, a city of Tacoma spokeswoman said Monday.
Paying customers at the projects retail shops, restaurants and movie theater will qualify for parking validation.
Most business will validate for one hour of parking. Restaurants Stack 571 Burger and Whiskey Bar and WildFin American Grill will be able to validate for two hours. Customers of the Century Theater can get five hours of parking validated.
Wheel Fun will not validate parking. The business operates spring through fall and rents out novelty bicycles, tricycles and carts.
Point Ruston is implementing technology that will allow drivers to pay for parking with a credit card via website or by using an app on their smartphones. Parking kiosks will also accept cash and credit cards.
People who work at Point Ruston will be able to park for free in designated areas.