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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and Fredericksburg.com. This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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New businesses to create parking crunch on William Street?

People dine outside Kybecca in downtown Fredericksburg on Sept. 14. With more restaurants planned for William Street, parking may become an issue. (Peter Cihelka/The Free Lance-Star)

Downtown parking has come up as an issue surrounding Fredericksburg’s new courthouse project, but some are more concerned with a potential crunch along the William Street corridor.

Several new businesses have opened along William Street over the past few years, many of them restaurants. Some people are beginning to call that stretch “Restaurant Row.”

On nice Friday and Saturday nights the corridor bustles with activity as people dine out at restaurants including Kybecca, Poppy Hill, F.W. Sullivan’s, Castiglia’s, Bistro Bethem and La Petite Auberge.

That success has played a role in convincing other restaurateurs to open along William. A sushi restaurant, burger lounge, German restaurant, rooftop bars, deli and an expansion of Castiglia’s are all now in the works.

While that is exactly the type of investment that economic development proponents strive for, it has left some worried about where all the customers will park. Surrounding property owners have complained at times about restaurant employees and customers parking on their lots.

Karen Hedelt, the city’s economic development director, said city officials are aware of the situation and keeping an eye on it. There has been some early discussion about possible solutions, including potentially another city garage or partnerships with property owners. The city’s Economic Development Authority has considered buying a lot for public parking in that area, but the EDA’s reduced budget could make that difficult.

Hedelt thinks the parking issue on William hasn’t grown to the point to be a major issue yet. She said customers can’t necessarily park right in front of the restaurant they want to go to, but there is usually a spot within a few blocks. And that’s not such a bad thing.

“It’s a nice downtown,” Hedelt said. “It’s nice to have a little walk to and from your restaurant.”

Kybecca co-owner Rebecca Thomas is among the camp that believes parking on William Street is a non-issue. She pointed out that in cities such as Alexandria nobody expects to park so close to the place they are going. She said William is in the early stages of becoming a destination area, and she thinks people should be pleased to see that.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/businessbrowser/2012/09/19/new-businesses-to-create-parking-crunch-on-william-street/