The Village Board of Trustees has approved an agreement with LAZ Parking Chicago, LLC to provide valet parking to customers in the area of Lake Street and Forest Avenue in downtown Oak Park.
The area will be in need of parking alternatives starting Aug. 4, when a village-owned parking garage is scheduled to close as part of a redevelopment project expected to take around 18 months to complete. The parking facility, at the corner of Lake and Forest, serves about 52,000 parkers annually, or about 166 cars per day, said Jill Velan, director of Parking and Mobility Services for the village.
Given the garage’s proximity to Oak Park Medical Center and several private practices, the valet service was being offered with seniors in mind, providing “an option for individuals who find it more difficult to walk,” said Velan.
LAZ — which made headlines five years ago when it signed a 75-year lease to run Chicago’s parking meter system — is expected to run the valet service during regular weekday business hours, charging $5 for up to three hours of parking and $12 for three to ten hours, according to a village staff report. LAZ will be paid $8,298 per month to operate the service.
At those rates, the company would need to serve about 83 drivers a day for the village to break even. As part of the contract, the village reserves the right to terminate the valet agreement with a month’s notice.
“We feel that it’s a good thing to start this service and monitor it on a month-to-month basis,” Velan said.
The garage is set to be replaced by a 21-story mixed-use development that will include 270 rental apartments, 25,000 square feet of ground-level retail and an integrated garage with 588 parking spaces.
Resident Sherlynn Reid said that the valet service would be valuable for both senior citizens and the village during the construction interlude.
“It may prove to be valuable after the parking lot is built, so the village can continue to make some money on this,” said Reid, former director of Oak Park’s Community Relations Department.
The missing piece to the agreement at this point is the question of where the vehicles will go; Valen said that the parking plan was “kind of in flux right now,” with possible locations on Lake and Forest currently being scouted for congestion levels. She said that valeted cars would hopefully be kept within a half-block of the shuttered garage.
Oak Park regulations allow for the establishment of loading zones that can be used for valet parking, but those designations require sign-off from the village engineer and chief of police, said Village Manager Cara Pavlicek.
She said that an initial parking plan for the service would need to be finalized “within the next week.”
“This is new territory for us, so we many need to change things as we learn how good we are at valet parking,” said Pavlicek.