Streetcar construction causing concern for downtown OKC business owners

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OKLAHOMA CITY - There's mounting fear and frustration for downtown business owners, with parking already a problem, there's now concern that construction of the new street cars could put them out of business.

Over the past three years, Lynn Crowe Richardson, owner of Teaze Dance and Fitness, has watched businesses fill out the once virtually empty street around her on North Broadway.

"Unfortunately, there hasn't been any parking added to the situation," she said.

In fact, the last nearby public parking lot is under construction to become a new building.

"So we're kind of scrambling around, basically with five parallel spots between several businesses," she said.

Her students are forced to park on a nearby street without lights or a connecting sidewalk.

It's a problem she's convinced will only worsen once construction begins on the streetcars on their block, and streetcars wipe out that street parking altogether.

City spokesperson Kristy Yager said the city has been working on the parking issue with districts like Automobile Alley.

"That's one reason why we've been updating the parking meters around downtown," Yager said. "It's really important that when people come downtown that those parking spots circulate and circulate quickly."

And at Downtown OKC Partnership, director of district management Mallory O'Neill, said they're trying to facilitate solutions for businesses who struggle with parking or other issues.

"What we`d really like to do is be able to connect her with available parking with other property owners," O'Neill said.

Crowe Richardson said she'll pursue help through Downtown OKC Partnership, but hopes to see a more proactive effort by the city to provide parking, paid or otherwise, for the businesses trying to survive in the city.

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