Visitors, Businesses Getting Used to New Parking Reality on Hollywood Beach

Javier Benavides said it took him 20-25 minutes to find a spot

By Keith Jones
|  Thursday, Jul 11, 2013  |  Updated 3:04 AM EDT
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Parking spaces at Hollywood Beach are hard to come by, but since Monday there are hundreds fewer, leading to visitor frustration and businesses worried about bottom lines. Javier Benavides and Greek restaurant owner Ali Kallidirimognlu spoke about the issue.

Parking spaces at Hollywood Beach are hard to come by, but since Monday there are hundreds fewer, leading to visitor frustration and businesses worried about bottom lines. Javier Benavides and Greek restaurant owner Ali Kallidirimognlu spoke about the issue.

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Parking spaces at Hollywood Beach are hard to come by, but since Monday there are hundreds fewer, leading to visitor frustration and businesses worried about bottom lines.

On Monday, crews began tearing out parking meters, pay stations, and street lights at and around the parking garage at Johnson Street. Demolition will soon follow to make way for the new Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. While the resort with Jimmy Buffett themes is expected to draw huge numbers, that's still two years away. Meanwhile, the beach is losing 786 parking spaces.

On Wednesday, Javier Benavides took his family to play at the beach near the parking garage only to find there were few spaces. He said it took him 20 to 25 minutes to find a spot.

"The city has provided nothing about where are we going to park. I've been coming to this place for 20 years and now it's going to be a mess," he said.

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Those who ambled and rolled their way along the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk say the growing pains of development will be worth it, but talk with beach businesses and it's bust.

Ali Kallidirimognlu has owned and operated a Greek restaurant near Johnson Street for 22 years. By noon, there were only two tables with customers. Kallidirimognlu says it'll only get worse.

"In a week or two we're going to go downhill real hard. We know it. We're hurting now as it is. Breakfast is gone," he said.

Another issue has cropped up too. Not only are the garage, the lot behind it, and various other parking spaces gone, so are the public bathrooms. Kallidirimognllu and other businesses say visitors are now trying to use their businesses as public facilities.

"I tell them it's not a public restroom. I don't force them to buy anything," he said. "I ask the city what are you going to do?"

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