High-tech parking systems at City Springs come with recently approved fees that try to balance public access with expected heavy demand at Sandy Springs’ new civic center.

Lanier Parking, the main operator, has a system intended provide free parking for short-term visitors and people attending City Hall for public meetings, while charging longer-term visitors enough to encourage turnover. The massive civic center just won’t have a lot of leftover parking, Lanier officials estimate.

“At any given point, any given scenario, we’re going to be very close to capacity,” said Lanier’s Sam Crews in a March 20 presentation to the city Public Facilities Authority—the City Council wearing a different legal hat as City Springs’ owner.

A new 713-space underground garage will soon open at City Springs. There is on-street parking as well, including 37 new spaces along Mount Vernon Highway. Lanier presented fee structures for both. The city is also building a surface parking lot at Blue Stone Road and Hilderbrand Drive to serve City Springs, but officials could not immediately clarify whether its parking system is similar to the on-street version.

The garage, located beneath the new City Green park, must handle a large number of regular users, including apartment residents and City Hall employees. That is in addition to varying numbers of visitors to businesses, City Hall and the Performing Arts Center.

Lanier will use various technologies to manage the garage. One is a system of colored lights over each parking space to show its status: green for open, red for reserved and blue for handicapped-accessible use only. The colors can be changed at any time to increase or decrease availability. Digital screens in the garage will provide directions and availability updates.

Reserved parking for arts events eventually will be available for purchase along with tickets. Drivers also will be encouraged to use the cellphone apps ParkWhiz and SpotHero to find and reserve garage spaces. License-plate reader cameras will be used to track vehicles entering the garage and confirm reservations.

City Councilmember Tibby DeJulio expressed some concern about the possible confusion of using such technologies. Crews said there will be some challenges for first-time users and that Lanier will provide staffers to direct people.

“It’s going to be a learning process,” he said.

Lanier will offer valet parking as well.

On-street parking will be metered with a maximum time of 90 minutes to increase availability of spaces.

City Springs is the city’s massive new civic center bounded by Roswell Road, Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs Circle and Johnson Ferry Road. It is opening in stages over the course of this year.

The rates and some free-time exceptions approved by the city are as follows:

Parking garage

  • 0-2 hours: Free
  • 2-3 hours: $4
  • 3-4 hours: $6
  • 4-5 hours: $8
  • 5-8 hours: $10
  • 8-24 hours: $18
  • Event Parking: $10 up to 24 hours
  • Lost Ticket: $24

For City Hall public meetings that go over two hours, attendees can get validations for free parking.

On-street parking

  • 0-30 minutes: $1
  • 31-60 minutes: $2
  • 61-90 minutes (maximum): $4

The 37 on-street parking spaces along Mount Vernon Highway will be complimentary will be free on afternoons and on Saturday mornings to allow people to enjoy the park without charge. The exact times were different in the Public Facilities Authority discussion and in a later city press release, but were presented as negotiable. The free hours given by the city are 2-5 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday mornings through 12:30 p.m. (though in May through December the Heritage Sandy Springs Farmers Market will operate there, closing down the street).

Valet parking

  • 0-4 hours: Free
  • 4-6 hours: $14
  • 6-24 hours: $28
  • Events: $20 for up to 8 hours

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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