Parking problem about to worsen in Royal Oak during development project

City to build more businesses, additional parking structures

By Jason Colthorp - Anchor/Reporter, Derick Hutchinson

ROYAL OAK, Mich. - Residents who rank the pros and cons of living in Royal Oak would likely put parking on the cons list, and the problem is expected to get even worse for awhile.

The city is planning to add more businesses, but it's coming at a cost to the current businesses.

Many Metro Detroiters have driven endlessly around Royal Oak while searching for a parking spot, and now the city is selling some of its parking lots. At one of the former lots, there are plans for a new office building.

"We don't have enough parking in Royal Oak," chef Johnny Prepolec said. "It's a pain in the butt to park in this city, you know?"

Prepolec owns Mr. B's and said he sees the benefit of the development being built right behind his business. But he and other business owners think the parking part of the project needs to come first.

"If there is no parking, if they wipe out this parking before the new parking lot is built, it will cost these businesses and our business hundreds of thousands of dollars," Prepolec said.

Part of the city's development plan is to turn two lots into office space with self-contained parking decks and put up a public parking deck on the site of the third lot.

"They need to make sure they're high enough and they give us at least enough parking, if not more than we have now," Prepolec said.

"It's a balance between what happens in the short term and what happens in the long term," Royal Oak City Manager Don Johnson said.

Johnson said the balance is the pain of inconvenience.

"In the end, we'll have a couple more parking structures," Johnson said. "We'll have more office buildings. We'll have more employees. We'll have more business for all the restaurants. We'll have more business for the retailers."

But that won't be until sometime next year. The businesses that depend on one lot that was already sold to a developer for a dollar are hurting.

"As soon as the parking lots closed, I definitely noticed a drastic decrease in the business," Ian Long, of Leo's Coney Island, said. "People were complaining steadily there was nowhere to park."

Royal Oak officials said the project has been in the works for a few years. They said there have been several meetings and forums at which business owners were allowed to share their thoughts on the project.

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