Decrease of Parking Spots Worries Some Business Owners

Several small business owners in the historic town of Leesburg, Va. are growing increasingly uneasy with the plans to renovate the downtown thoroughfare.

The town plans to expand the sidewalk and make the King Street corridor more pedestrian-friendly, but that will include removing about two blocks of street parking.

For the past 25 years, Mike Carroll has owned Leesburg Vintner, a wine shop at the corner of King Street and Loudoun Street. He's not sure how much longer he'll be in business if the plans are carried through.

"We're scared! I mean we're not just a little concerned, we're scared," Carroll said. "... This is our livelihood; this is what we do. I've got four kids at home; we'll take a hit."

While it's only a dozen spaces that would be eliminated, several business owners stress convenient, customer parking is a rarity in downtown Leesburg. They worry the nearby parking garage won't be enough to lure their customers.

"We thrive on customer service and this will really set us back in a big way," Carroll said.

However, Vice Mayor David Butler, a strong proponent of the renovations, believes it could give the historic district an economic boost.

"The whole thing should be safer, it should be more pedestrian-friendly and should allow for more activity on the street," Butler said.

Butler argues the renovations are about making the town more competitive, especially given the new town centers popping up around Loudoun County.

"The vision of arts, entertainment and dining, we think is a good vision," Butler said. "And [it] will bring people downtown and make it a destination for them on the weekends, especially."

"The Pink Shop" business owner, Sola Pallotta, is all for the changes.

"It's going to be great; it's a renovating of the town. I don't think the town's be renovated for a really long time," Pallotta said. "We could use more foot traffic. We've got some great shops downtown [and] awesome restaurants."

But many critics, like Carroll, are bracing for an economic hit.

"If they take away parking a lot of businesses will be hurt, and if that's their idea of being business-friendly, then God help us all," he said.

The Leesburg Town Council will cast a final vote on the controversial renovations on Oct. 8.

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