New building paves over local businesses

By Branda Mitchell

Local business owners are concerned about the lack of parking options where construction has begun at the space 710 Bookstore previously occupied.

“Parking over there isn’t that great to begin with,” William Lo, manager of his family-owned Chinese restaurant, New Kahala, said. “We knew that once that new apartment building would open up, parking would be an issue. A lot of our customers parked in the 710 lot.”

New Kahala, which was located on the strip for 21 years, is now moving to the 600 block of East Grand Avenue near Don Taco partly because of the parking issue. Don Taco’s location on the strip also recently closed.


All businesses and residences must meet a requirement for provided parking spaces based on square footage of the property or the people capacity of the building under city municipalities.

The Primary Business District [PBD], where businesses like Quatro’s and Shawnee Trails Wilderness Outfitters are located, are exempt from the parking space requirement.

City Manager Kevin Baity said the PBD is exempt from this requirement because the city has provided street parking and lots.

Baity said Tartan Realty Group, the new developer, constructing the building within the PBD, has not requested to change the city code that already exists. He said efforts are being made to increase the amount of parking in the area.

“We are developing plans to build a parking lot [adjacent to the railroad tracks behind Fat Patties] and it will have about 50 parking spaces,” Baity said. “We have it in the current years fiscal budget. We should hopefully have this completed by May 1, 2015.”

The property will house more than 350 residents, several retailers and will include between 50 – 60 parking spaces.

Baity said 710, who privately owned the parking lot outside its building, had a lease agreement with the City of Carbondale that installed meters and shared revenue.


“The city only owned seven parking spaces, three of which were being utilized by a dumpster,” Baity said.

Business owners in the area think the city’s plans for parking is not sufficient. Rick Reeves, owner of Shawnee Trails Wilderness Outfitters, said the new development, which began June 18, is already causing issues.

“Quatro’s uses 40 plus [parking] spaces for their average crowd and we don’t have much more than that anymore,” he said. “I’ve already had a customer upset because the closest place he could find to park was over by Pagliai’s.”

Reeves is also concerned about how this will affect students in the fall.

“Come fall and spring semesters, we will really see the pinch because students utilize that lot during the day,” he said. “Students feed the meter, then head to campus for the day.”

Reeves said it is unnecessary to build new apartments because enrollment and city population are continually dropping.

“There is already a ton of rentals available and here we are approving 300 plus beds,” he said. “All that’s going to do is draw people from other apartments that will make it hard for those owners. … Building new apartments isn’t going to bring new students.”

Branda Mitchell can be reached at [email protected].