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Parking and Ice Cream - Lafayette Works To Squeeze Fenton's In

Many locals see it as a two-fer - a great Bay Area brand making a new home in an unused local landmark. The only problem is where to park the minivan.

If city officials and business leaders get their way, the marquee at Lafayette's Park Theater will glow again - this time with ice cream specials instead of matinee titles.

The folks at would very much like to set up shop in the old theater, closed for the last six years, and the city would very much like to have them here.

The problem is where to put the cars the creamery is expected to draw to Plaza Way - an issue for a part of town seeing increased use and no place to create additional parking. Businesses in the area have privately groused about the lack of available parking and say it is driving away potential customers.

A special committee formed to address and hopefully find a solution for the problem meets Tuesday night at 5 p.m. Comprised of city council members, planning commissioners, city staff and downtown business and property owners, the group is looking for a way to bring business to the area and make sure there's a place for customers to park.

So far, possible solutions include "lease-back" arrangements with the owners of nearby parking lots and the creation of a special historic district along what was once, well, the historic first stretch of boardwalk in town - a move that relaxes the standards for parking in an area used for everything from the local farmers market to outdoor movie nights

Business people around Plaza Way said there are plans afoot to make the area more "pedestrian friendly" and to give the Plaza a facelift designed to attract new business - and more customers - to the area.

Parking remains a critical issue and potential deal-killer, with the cost of leasing the required spaces eating into the operating costs of any new business and making their plan less viable. If Fentons were to open now instead of the summer of 2012 they could count on having 12 dedicated parking spots, Park Theater owner Greg Woehrle has said. They need 66.

While the city has hinted it will do what it can to make the Fenton's deal happen, it is clear that other businesses who have found themselves in a similar parking pinch may wonder why they didn't get similar consideration.

Jack Fuller August 04, 2011 at 07:37 PM
66 parking spaces needed? 66 ? ? ?
Spencer August 04, 2011 at 08:31 PM
Sorry, Zachary's is going into downtown Walnut Creek.
jo August 04, 2011 at 08:39 PM
Patxi's is way better than Zachary's
c5 August 05, 2011 at 04:16 PM
we went to the farmer's market yesterday late afternoon and had a chance to look around. there is a building almost directly opposite the theater for sale, and of course there are two (at least late in the day) almost empty parking lots within two blocks of the theater. surely there is a way to make this all work out... and i didn't know that zach's was coming to walnut creek....that's fantastic news!
Kendra loveless August 05, 2011 at 04:30 PM
Actually, that lot is used heavily by parents dropping children off and picking them up at 2 local schools, Lafayette Elementary and Old Firehouse Preschool. there are times when it is full just for that.

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