People who shop or work at the Lawrence Riverfront Plaza soon will be able to park there for free.
Lawrence city commissioners approved a new parking agreement Tuesday night that allows two-hour free parking on the top level of the city-owned garage and $1 per-visit parking on the bottom level.
The agreement takes effect Sept. 1.
It requires Riverfront L.L.C., the new owners of the mall, to pay the city $22,560 a year for the purchase of 235 non-exclusive parking permits for the lower level. The city also can collect $1 per visit from anybody who parks on the lower level but does not have an annual permit.
Meanwhile, the 250 spaces on the upper level will have free two-hour parking, although the city can issue tickets and collect fines from people who violate the time limit.
In addition, the city will charge the mall a "common area parking fee" of 25 cents per square foot of leased space for any tenant who moves into the mall after Sept. 1 or any existing tenant other than the city who expands the amount of space it rents.
Bill Newsome, a partner in Riverfront L.L.C., said the new owners considered establishing free parking as a key to attracting retail shoppers and, as a result, new retail tenants. He said a little more than a third of the leasable space at the mall is vacant.
The mall's partnership includes members of the Simons family, which owns the Journal-World.
-- Peter Hancock's phone message number is 832-7144. His e-mail address is email@example.com.