As downtown Columbus, evolves, those who frequent it need to evolve, too, said Ross Horner, president and CEO of Uptown Columbus.
As the downtown renaissance continues, parking is becoming more and more of a challenge, Horner said Friday at a news conference announcing the launch of an Uptown marketing campaign to change the way downtown customers, students and residents look at parking.
Horner, Richard Bishop, his predecessor at Uptown, and Becca Zajac, vice president of marketing and community relations for Uptown, outlined the challenges facing downtown and the campaign to address it.
“Parking is going to become a premium, so if we don’t do a better job of educating the public on where the parking, that’s very convenient, is, then shame on us,” Bishop said. “They’ve got to figure out that I’m not going to get a parking spot right in front of the Loft or Mabella’s or Mama Goldberg’s or Chancellor’s. But at the end of the day, there’s plenty of parking down here, you just have to know where it is.”
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City planners try to have adequate parking within 1,500 feet of attractions they hope to draw people to, Bishop said.
“In uptown, that’s two-and-a-half blocks,” Bishop said.
With four parking decks within easy walking districts of practically all downtown attractions, drivers have ample access to parking, even if street parking is jammed, Bishop said. It’s just a matter of getting people used to parking in the decks, which is the purpose of the marketing campaign.
Zajac developed the campaign along with Helena Coates, a marketing specialist and member of the Uptown board of directors.
“We’re trying to reach not just visitors, not just residents, not just merchants. This is for workers, visitors, everybody,” Zajac said.
In addition to the videos, Uptown is distributing maps that show the four parking decks in relation to the many downtown destinations. The map also tells customers how many spaces are available at each deck and for what cost. The Rivercenter Deck, Front Avenue Deck and CB&T Deck are all free. The Bay Avenue Deck costs $2, but only up until 5 p.m., after which it is free also.
“Hopefully you’re seeing these in every single restaurant and retail shop,” Zajac said.
The videos produced for the campaign show couples and families walking from parking decks, past attractions and to destinations, all along with a timer ticking off the seconds, indicating how short the walk is.
Horner, who just took over Uptown on Jan. 1, said he thinks it will be a “behavioral change for Columbus,” and one that will benefit all of Uptown, businesses and customers alike
“As Uptown has changed, so has Columbus,” Horner said.