Off-road rage: Locals irate over parking-price increases at Kings Plaza

Off-road rage: Locals irate over parking-price increases at Kings Plaza
Photo by Steve Solomonson

They’ve got a lot of anger!

Locals are fuming over new parking-fee hikes at Kings Plaza Shopping Center that mall bigwigs implemented earlier this month.

The new parking rates effective Feb. 1 — which cost $3 for two hours, $4 for three hours, $5 for four hours, and $10 for between four and 24 hours — are an attempt to replace revenue the Avenue U mall will lose by stopping its illegal scheme to rent out hundreds of spaces as storage for local car dealerships, claimed a local civic leader.

“Now that we recently caused the removal of the storage of more than 400 illegally parked cars from neighboring dealerships from their parking lot, they raised the parking fees for the shoppers,” said Dottie Turano, the district manager of local Community Board 18.

Last year, the city ordered the mall’s current owners, Brooklyn Kings Plaza LLC, to remove hundreds of cars without license plates illegally stored on the Kings Plaza lot following a disastrous September arson attack that injured 21 and destroyed hundreds of vehicles.

Officials issued the company a $1250 fine in October — and a second violation last Friday, when Department of Buildings inspectors returned to discover 500 cars without license plates still stored the garage, some 50 more vehicles than they found in an inspection shortly after the fire.

The new parking rates — which also include a $10 charge for lost tickets — will also hurt Kings Plaza’s business, because they will force customers to patron other retailers with cheaper or free spots, according to another local leader.

“They’re shooting themselves in the foot,” said Sal Calise, the president of Bergen Beach Civic Association. “Locals are seeking out other options, such as Gateway Center Mall, Macy’s Backstage on Emmons Avenue, or Century 21 on 86th Street.”

When the mall first opened its doors in 1970, shoppers could park in the garage for free. But over the years, its different owners added a flat fee to park, starting at 50 cents and increasing incrementally to $3, the price before the new rates kicked in.

Turano admitted there is nothing legally stopping Kings Plaza bigwigs from jacking up the parking prices, but said mall operators should think twice about nickel-and-diming the community where she said it already put many mom-and-pop shops out of business since it opened.

“It’s not even the fee, they’re not being good neighbors, they’re putting mom and pop stores out of business,” the civic leader said.

And she agreed that customers will likely take their business elsewhere as a result of the latest hikes, claiming parking lots at stores next door to Kings Plaza — including Lowe’s and Walgreens, which charge no fees to patrons arriving in cars — filled up with vehicles in the days since the mall upped its prices.

“You can go to Gateway [Center] or any other mall and not pay for parking,” Turano said. “We drove past last weekend and Lowe’s parking was packed.”

The change in fees is also driving more Kings Plaza customers to walk to the mall after stowing their rides in the parking lot outside the old Toys “R” Us on Flatbush Avenue, which is growing more crowded by the day since the hikes took place, according to Turano.

“They’re even parking by Toys “R” Us, which has been happening before but now it’s getting progressively worse,” she said. “And I don’t blame them.”

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@schnepsmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.
Extra charge: Kings Plaza upped its parking fees — from a flat $3 for the day to now hourly rates — at the beginning of the month. The new prices start at $3 for two hours and increases in increments of up to $10 for the day, as well as that price for a lost ticket.
Photo by Steve Solomonson