Turn on the parking karma — Hollywood Beach set to lose more than 800 spaces

07/07/2013 12:25 PM

07/07/2013 12:26 PM

Hope you’ve got “Parking Karma.” You’re going to need it.

Hollywood Beach is poised to lose nearly a third of its parking spaces as construction begins for the new Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort.

As of midnight Monday, the 630-space parking garage on Johnson Street will close, and gone also will be the 146 spaces in front of the garage and nearly 50 spaces along Johnson and Michigan streets.

“It’s a total inconvenience,” said Gary Lawood, who spent more than 20 minutes trying to find a spot Friday night before finding one in the Johnson Street lot, which now has a sign warning beach-goers the lot will be closing. “Where are people going to park?”

The city has already come up with a plan to help with less spots –– but most are blocks away or more.

Posted on their website (www.hollywoodfl.org) and printed on fliers, the city is trying to direct people to the city’s 2,000 other spots on the beach, as well private lots. The city is also encouraging people to “park remotely” and make use of the city’s trolley system and the water taxi.

Another parking option may be available in the future: The Community Redevelopment Agency is looking at building a parking garage in the old fire station at Nebraska Street and A1A.

“There are many lots that are underused,” said CRA Director Jorge Camejo. “If someone wants to get to the beach they will still be able to. It will be different and less convenient but it will be for a limited time.”

The inconvenience will be well worth it, said Mayor Peter Bober.

“The silver lining to the garage closing is that the Margaritaville Beach Resort is going to happen,” said Bober.

For several years, the city has been waiting to develop the five-acre lot on Johnson Street at the beach. Throughout the years, there have been several failed projects because of financing issues and other setbacks. Despite the skeptics, Margaritaville developer Lon Tabatchnick said Friday that “everything is a go.” He said he was waiting to finish the permits Monday so that they can begin construction and officially take control of the land Tuesday.

“This is not the culmination, this is just the beginning,” said Tabatchnick. “We have a lot of work ahead us. We are excited to be moving forward.”

To make room for the Jimmy Buffett-styled Paradise — complete with seven restaurants and bars, several pools and a double FlowRider — the massive garage, street lot and sandy area that houses a playground and exercise equipment will have to go.

For Edward Monakhav, who works out daily on the push up and pull-up bars, hearing that his daily exercise routine will have to change was “upsetting.”

And the thought of less parking on the weekend was “crazy.”

“There isn’t enough parking as it is,” he said.

The project, which is expected to take 27 months to complete, will eventually have a parking garage with 600 public spaces.

But for the next two years, beach-goers will have to make due with the garage at Hollywood Beach Resort, 101 North Ocean Dr., on the south end of the beach, the Garfield Garage, 300 Connecticut St., which is several blocks north of Johnson Street, or be lucky and find a space on the street.

“It’s not going to be worth it,” said Sherri Pender, who already aims to get to the Johnson Street parking area by 7:30 a.m. Saturdays to get a decent spot. She said she’ll now go south to Hallandale Beach or north to Fort Lauderdale instead.

As early as next week, Tabatchnick said, 2,000 feet of fencing will surround the area as they begin disconnecting the power to the garage and leveling the area. Construction equipment will come in and signs — both to help people find existing businesses and to warn people of the construction zone — will go up.

“It will be a short term annoyance for a long term benefit,” he said.

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