Let's have a park-in

If you're not familiar with the recent or past history of Carr Mill Mall management's anti-Carrboro policies, catch up with us at http://orangepolitics.org/tags/carr-mill. I am so frustrated by the attitude that Carr Mill owes nothing to the community that has made them so successful.

A few days ago ago, Damon and I were looking for a place to park in downtown Carrboro. We had a question and asked Hector (the security guard), he gave us a short answer and a slip of paper with the following printed on it (verbatim):

Carr Mill has asked me to let you know that the parking lots here are for use, ONLY while conducting business on Carr Mill Property. If you should leave the property with your vehicle parked here, it is subject to being towed. To be clear, "conducting business" means that even if you intend to shop and then want to walk elsewhere, or go elsewhere and then come back to shop, your car may be here only while you are physically on the property. If you wish to visit more of the businesses downtown, I'd be happy to direct you to one of the public parking lots nearby,. Southern Rail is NOT part of the Carr Mill property.

Carr Mill rulesThis policy is hostile to their own customers and tenants more than anyone else, but also gives the finger to all of downtown Carrboro, ie: the host organism on which Carr Mill thrives. I keep wondering how and when the mall's owner and manager will face some kind of consequences for these stupid policies. I know one person who refuses to park in their lot now, even when he is patronizing their businesses, but that's only giving them what they want - more empty spaces. I think we should do the opposite and organize a park-in, something like this:

We schedule a meeting (preferably during shopping hours) with mall manager Nathan Milian to discuss his parking policy and enforcement. We drive as many cars as possible to Carr Mill that day, park them all and spend no money there. This may hurt their tenant businesses in the short run, but it's the only way I can think of to put pressure on Milian to reconsider.

Who's with me on the park-in? Or do you have better ideas? I'd love to hear them.



Maybe make the park-in a party. Get WCOM to play some tunes (preferrably good ol' protest songs) so we can all play the same radio out the car windows and party in the lot (we'll still be "physically on the property").  Buy supplies from mall stores for the conducting business portion kills two birds. 

Last time we tried to park there we were going to grab a bite across the street and then go shopping or maybe get dessert at Carr Mill Mall.  When we tried and were asked to move my car by the security person, we just didn’t come back to shop, and I don’t think I’ve been back sense. I’m not intentionally boycotting the place or anything, but when they’ve got less offerings than other malls, and now they’re throwing in less convenience too, I just don’t see any reason to go there... especially when they don’t seem to care about me any more than Southpoint… which by the way is a place where I can shop and eat without having to drive in between. I think if they keep this policy up they're going to hurt their bottom line in the long run, which is something I think they will pay attention to. 

Maybe contacting the businesses first and asking if they'd support a better policy would be a good first step. That way they don't feel like a mother with a crying kid, late for an appointment, & stuck behind a Critical Mass bike ride.

Contacting the businesses does seem like it would be the best first step.  I imagine if the businesses did not support the parking policy then as a group they would have some influence over the property manager, Nathan Milian, to change it.  Everyone seems to blame all this on Milian but I have heard nothing from the business owners in the mall that would lead me to beleive there is not support for the parking enforcement as is. It may also help to contact the people who actually own the property and explain how their current policy is damaging the image of Carr Mill as a friendly place to shop and will eventually hurt their bottom line.  I doubt Nathan makes the rules since he does not own the property.  A 'park in' may be a fun way to vent some frustration but does not seem like the best way to address the issue.  In fact it would kind of prove their point, that if Carr Mill allows all these folks to park there and spend no money it would hurt the businesses.

Did you read my background links? It's been pretty well establishd that Milian is not interested in the wishes of his tenants, even the anchor Weaver Street Market. 

Yes I have read them and just skimmed back over them.  I see a lot of consumers who are upset and angry but not much input from businesses regarding parking enforcement. Sorry but I may have missed those posts or maybe I am not aware that some of the folks posting represent a business in Carr Mill.  I certainly have not seen or heard of an organized group of Carr Mill tenants requesting that the policies be re-evaluated and/or changed.  Even if Weaver Street, the anchor, is upset there are a lot of other tenants and I imagine it would take a number of them to join together to force any change.It is not my intention to defend Nathan or the parking policies of Carr Mill since I agree they are fairly heavy handed, I am simply interested in a reasonable solution and I don't believe a park-in would be productive. 

The better approach might be to encourage Carr Mill Mall to charge for parking, but allow merchants to stamp a four-hour parking voucher. That way, you keep people from parking there all day (which could be a problem), but let people who shop there and want to cross the street to do something else in town. The bigger problem with the Carr Mill Mall is that they devote a huge amount of space to parking that would be more productively used for stores, offices, and even apartments/condos, given its central location. 

I'm glad so many people are interested in this - including a Daily Tar Heel reporter - but I want to be clear about a few things:

  1. I am not actually organizing a park-in. (Although it might be cool if someone did.) It's a reference to the dance-ins that were held after Bruce was banned from dancing on the lawn, in spite of Weaver Street Market's mild protestations against the Carr Mill policy. The policy was significantly softened in response to the community outcry.
  2. I'm the last person who wants to hurt any of the businesses downtown, including those at Carr Mill. The whole problem with the parking policy is that it hurts Carrboro businesses (both at CM and not) by making it logistically harder for people to patronize their businesses and by creating a generally hostile environment which just makes people feel bad about a place that they other wise love (and love to spend money at).

I'm now thinking of an alternate scheme, where we have a park-in, but spend TONS of money at Carr Mill businesses that day to show our support. The problem is that in the past, Milian has shown no consideration for what the tenants wanted. I know because I was part of a group that surveyed them during the dancing ban. The problem is that the mall is owned by someone from out of state and managed by someone who does not live in Orange County and simply does not "get" what makes Carrboro tick, even though he profits from it every day. A lucky accident for him, as far as I can tell. I am at a loss as to how to effect some leverage over the decision-makers in this situation.

Ruby you are so right about the need to fix this, BUT, for Milan & Assoc. it's all about the bottom line.  He has made it clear that he doesn't care about what the community thinks.  A number of posters have brought up talking to the Carr Mill Mall business owners.  I think that is crucial because without their support this will go no where.  If it can be illustrated that a more liberal parking policy would actually HELP increase business (and it would by having potential shoppers park at Carr Mill over Southpoint), maybe they would add the pressure of the bottom line to the owners of the mall.It's sad that there is a climate of fear.  Shoppers are afraid to park because they will be towed.  Store owners are afraid to make a ruckus because of their own bottom line.  It's a microcosm of the world at large and that in itself is why it so important for this to change.I could see a silent protest or a sit-in.  A big crowd shows up, parks, and just holds up signs like "Join the community," etc.  I wouldn't buy stuff-it negates the point.my 2 cents Del Snow

It's mystifying why the ownership of Carr Mill (like the previous owners of University Plaza) believe that they're doing anyone any good by being so antagonistically militant.  Even before the street construction messes in the area, parking at Carr Mill could be tight, and closing off the pass-through between Elmo's and the CVS made it that much worse.At the very least, they could have passed out flyers showing where else to park in the area, along with a more gracious explanation that if your car takes up space that other patrons might need, even for that 15 minutes you're across the street, you are hurting Carr Mill businesses -- and maybe with the warning:  "We'd prefer not to tow anyone, but we do reserve that right."As it is, they court not only bad PR (which they clearly don't/won't care about until and unless they ever need something from local government) but disruptions that hurt their tenants.  Empty storefronts aren't really a good business plan for a commercial landlord, especially in this economy; you wouldn't think they'd want any more in Carr Mill Mall.Anyway you look at it, the nastiness is gratuitous and inexplicable.  Again.

I don't think there's a point in having an event without proposing a realistic change to the current policy.  The problem as I see it is that shoppers who want to shop at the Carr Mill Mall can't because people shopping elsewhere are using the lot.  I've stopped using the grocery there since its not practical to park several blocks away and haul my groceries back to the car.So...  I support the idea that the lot at Carr Mill is primarily for people shopping at Carr Mill.  In a perfect world there would be plenty of room for everyone, and they could open the lot to the community, but I believe the current situation is keeping people from shopping there.  On the other hand, I often will park there and also shop across the street, and its dumb to have to move your car so you can walk across the street and shop.This whole situation is caused by having too many businesses around without parking, which is good, since no one wants to turn Carrboro into a parking lot, but the city needs to step up and put up a parking garage with more than enough spaces for downtown merchants.   


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