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Cherry Creek Mall To End '1st Hour Free' Parking Policy

DENVER (CBS4) - Free parking at Cherry Creek Shopping Center will soon be a thing of the past. The popular Denver mall is ending its first-hour-free parking policy.

Cherry Creek Shopping Center parking garage
(credit: CBS)

"You're going to the mall to shop at the mall and they're benefiting from that," said Mark Walde, a shopper who also lives nearby. "It's the only mall that I'm familiar with in the area that actually charges for parking so we're discouraged with that news."

The new rates, effective Jan. 21, will increase prices to $2 for the first two hours, then $2 an hour after that. There is a 16-day maximum.

"I think parking, paying for parking, is kind of discouraging patrons," said Debbie Walde. "There's other alternatives, other malls seem to make do."

A mall parking station at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center. (credit: CBS)

The $2 will cover 2 hours of shopping. General Manager Jeramy Burkinshaw noted that the old rate of $3 after the first hour actually cost customers more in the long run. The new rate will cost more upfront, but will save shoppers money in the long run. Statistically, Burkinshaw noted that most customers spend between 1-2 hours at the mall.

"A lot of people not shopping at the shopping center are taking advantage of the parking, so this new rate structure is in an effort to curb that use and really reserve those premium parking spaces for our guests and our shoppers," Burkinshaw said.

(credit: CBS)

Businesses that choose to, will still validate parking at the Cherry Creek Shopping Center. The decision rests with each individual merchant. Visit the mall's website to see a full list of merchants who validate.

"This is a step to enhance the guest experience to insure that as you come to the shopping center you always have premium parking available," Burkinshaw added.

The mall instituted a paid parking system in 2017. Even with this upcoming change, the mall will be at the market rate or below for parking in the Cherry Creek area, according to Burkinshaw.

"They could maybe charge higher rates later to deal with that problem without charging us to go to Macy's for an hour," Mark Walde said.

For residents who live nearby like the Walde family, the convenience of visiting the mall included enjoying free parking for the first hour. The couple says they usually got in and out of the shopping center within that timeframe. They may avoid driving to the mall now or visit is less often because of this rate change.

"It is a mall and they have to keep that in mind," Debbie Walde said. "I think we will be walking a lot more, I think it could slow business down."

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