BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- Downtown Binghamton's new Hawley Street Parking garage opened today and many business owners are hopeful that it will be a step toward solving the city's parking woes.
Robert Wandell owns Imagicka on Court Street. He says the shortage of good parking spaces downtown is not just inconvenient, it's cost him many customers over the years.
"Anything that increases the amount of parking is going to help the businesses down here," he said. "If people drive around this block twice and don't find parking here, they go shop somewhere else."
Binghamton Mayor Rich David says that's exactly why the city has been working to build the structure ever since the Collier Street ramp was demolished in 2016.
"This new parking garage is a major infrastructure investment to support the continued economic growth of Downtown Binghamton, and the small businesses who drive it," he said just before cutting the ribbon with Senator Fred Akshar.
One of those small businesses is Parlor City Cards and Collectibles, and owner Andrew Strong says the garage comes as a lifeline for small businesses, at a time when the pandemic is still eroding foot traffic.
"Any customer that walks away hurts," he said. "There's not a lot of traffic downtown the college kids aren't around and it makes it frustrating but anything we can do to bring more people downtown, make it easier for them to come downtown really helps."
Wandell says he also hopes the ramp will create extra parking for people who live and work on Court Street, in turn helping businesses and customers.
"This new parking ramp is going to help give them someplace else to park and hopefully clear up more parking for our customers and clients," he said.
Drivers can either get a monthly membership, or use the garage's new pay system which allows you to pay with cash or credit card at two walk up stations or from your car by card only.
With construction of the garage, a portion of Washington Street is now open to two-way traffic. Drivers may exit the garage and drive toward Hawley Street or Court Street.