Friday, March 24, 2023

City council to consider change for short-term convention center parking fee

The Convention Center Advisory Committee is proposing an adjustment of fees at the Wilmington Convention Center Parking Deck that would create a flat rate for short-term event parking.

Currently the WCC parking deck has a flat rate of $8 for event parking, no matter the duration. The committee is asking the Wilmington City Council for an ordinance amendment that would delineate both what constitutes a short-term event and how much it would cost. The recommendation is for a $5 flat rate for events lasting three hours or less between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The Wilmington Convention Center is off Nutt Street downtown. File photo.
The Wilmington Convention Center. File photo.

The request comes out of concern for groups and individuals that host or attend breakfast and lunch events, which according to the committee last an average of two and a half hours.

“These short-term events have been an economic catalyst for other local companies to host training events or professional conferences at the Wilmington Convention Center,” said City Manager Sterling Cheatham in the opening document for the ordinance amendment. “Convention Center Advisory Committee members are concerned these local event organizers will relocate to another venue, thus reducing the number of events held in the Wilmington Convention Center.”

In addition to applying to individuals, the flat fee would also be integrated into the convention center’s voucher system. The system, which was implemented a few years ago after guests complained about the lengthy waiting period to exit the deck (where a paystation is located), allows companies and event organizers to post-pay the parking fees for their attendees and guests.

The committee hopes this criteria-based flat fee, which can be changed at the discretion of the city manager or designee depending on the event, will both help maintain current clients as well as attract new ones to the facility and to the city.

“We believe this will help to keep existing and help new customers that provide economic generation to the WCC and WCC Parking Deck and benefit the City of Wilmington through the city’s ongoing growth periods,” Louise McColl, chairperson of the Wilmington Convention Center Advisory Committee, wrote in a letter to the mayor and council.

The mayor and city council will hear the request at their meeting Tuesday night, which will begin at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The Wilmington Convention Center Parking Deck is located on the corner of North Water Street and Estell Lee Drive (where the entrance is located). It contains over 580 parking spaces. The deck’s current hourly fees, which are $3 for the first hour, $2 each for the second and third hours and $1 for each subsequent hour ($13 maximum per day) were implemented this past July and will not be changed.

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