Bustling overpass area fretting over parking, I-10 widening fears

    Parking has long been an issue for a popular Perkins Road overpass area already flush with restaurants, bars and shops.

    With the area continuing to attract new retailers, some business owners are concerned the problem will only get worse. Even more worrisome to them is what will happen once work begins on the I-10 widening project.

    A new rooftop restaurant and bar, Bumsteers, is expected to open soon in the former Crispy Catch building near the overpass that’s been expanded to double its original size. New townhomes are also coming to the Zee Zee Gardens neighborhood.

    While existing area business owners are happy about the growth, they also want there to be more discussions about growing parking problems.

    “On the positive side, it’s great the area is getting a good shot in the arm with new restaurants and developments,” says area property owner Frank Sagnibene. “The bad side is there’s not enough parking.”

    Parking discussions, of late, have been about the new Bumsteers and its expanded building. Eric Carnegie, a co-owner of the new restaurant, declined comment.

    But the issue weighing heaviest on the minds of business owners is the impending expansion of I-10, which runs through the heart of the overpass area. City Pork owner Stephen Hightower, for example, has dedicated parking for his restaurant that he worries will be lost during construction.

    “We are extremely concerned when the I-10 widening comes that we won’t be able to use that parking,” Hightower says. “It’s very difficult for us to chart a path with the unknown. With other places moving into the area as well, parking is definitely a concern.”

    George’s owner Smokie Bourgeois has similar concerns, saying, “There’s not going to be any parking when they bring all that equipment for the interstate. It’s going to be a total wipeout for the Perkins Road overpass area.”

    Progress, however, on the widening project has been slow so far, with actual construction not beginning anytime soon, so the threat of lost parking isn’t imminent.

    Meanwhile, as new developments open in the area, business owners need to work with each other on parking solutions, says Zippy’s owner Neal Hendrick, rather than repeat problems experienced in the past.

    “Parking has gotten better,” Hendrick says. “With Bumsteers coming in, that’s what everyone’s talking about. But everyone knows each other and works together. As long as it’s not a major problem, you can give up a parking spot here and there. One is fine, but 15—we have to talk.”

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