The Latest Happenings Around the Corner.
The Parking Effect
Written by: Stevan Schwartzenberger, Neptune Beach native
From Manhattan to San Francisco, urbanites are consistently exploring their dwellings. Whether by foot, bike, car, or train, they find a way to experience the charms their city has to offer.
Beaches Town Center is no different - in fact, it’s better. Where else can you experience the coolest things to do where two adjoining cities meet the ocean?
The past two decades have demonstrated significant growth at the corner. What started as a community for small businesses to set up shop has evolved into a thriving, stimulating, and exciting business district for Atlantic Beach and Neptune Beach. From Beaches Town Center veterans such as Sun Dog and Ragtime, to new kids on the block, M Shack and North Beach Fish Camp, the corner’s current roster bespeaks its success as a centralized business district that appeals to all demographics.
Anyone who has visited or lived in a city like Manhattan knows the more appealing the neighborhood, the more likely one wants to experience its charms. This seems to be the underlying theme for the current parking situation at Beaches Town Center. Fortunately for the center’s merchants, parking is only a problem when there’s something worth parking for. If Beaches Town Center didn’t offer a variety of dining destinations coupled with neighboring entertainment options and unique retailers, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
According to Niall Fallon, owner of Mezza Luna and long-time Atlantic Beach resident, “parking problems are a symptom of success.” Niall has been campaigning for the corner since North Shore was a hotel. His fondest memory of Beaches Town Center was in 1989 - he was at Ragtime signing the paperwork for his first home in Atlantic Beach. Like Niall, Emilie Christenson, owner of Jaffis and Kyds, found herself at one of the corner’s restaurants when regaling her fondest memory as a customer of Beaches Town Center. “Everyone knows your name and what you like,” says Emilie, “For example, it doesn’t matter how long its been since my last visit to Mezza Luna, when I sit at the bar, the bartender always whips out a bottle of J Lohr Cabernet and pours me a glass before I say a word.”
Emilie recently moved her children’s clothing boutique, Kyds, back to Beaches Town Center from St. John’s Town Center because of the corner’s unique culture and vibe. She’s taken the parking situation as an opportunity to get creative. In an effort to encourage customers to patronize multiple businesses, Christenson is offering 10% off full priced Jaffis and Kyds merchandise when a receipt is presented from any other area of business and best of all, the discount never expires.
Harriet Pruettte, Mayor of Neptune Beach, agrees that parking always presents an opportunity to get creative. She is currently working with the Neptune Beach’s Public Safety Officer to create 20-30 new parking spaces on Second Street. There will be a two hour limit on each space, giving beach goers, shoppers, and foodies the opportunity to experience all of Beaches Town Center’s offerings. In addition to the new parking spaces, parties representing both cities are working together to establish immediate action to remedy the current parking situation as well as strategize innovative alternatives. One of which are your own two feet.
Manhattan and San Francisco are both excellent examples of cities forever complained about for their parking. However, it’s rare locals and visitors let parking hinder their curiosity to explore. In fact, many will tell you the most rewarding part about trekking these destinations is the journey. The same goes for Beaches Town Center. When asked her favorite street to stroll, Cathy Wagner, General Manager of Ragtime, says the walk from Ragtime to Lillie’s for her coffee and bagel is a morning ritual she enjoys several times a week. Whereas Curtis Winter, owner of Sun Dog, prefers the path from Sun Dog to Ragtime and back again. Would these individuals be able to enjoy their journey as much in a car? Put on your walking shoes and decide.