Opinion: Conshohocken’s Borough Council Overthinks Parking Situation and Penalizes a New Business

Last night Conshohocken’s Borough Council took the unusual, but permitted, step of asking Nudy’s Cafe to conduct a parking study. Nudy’s Cafe was seeking a waiver of off street parking, which is required by the Borough’s zoning code. Once in receipt of the waiver the owner of Nudy’s Cafe said it would take three months to open.

Please note that there was not a vote for or against the waiver. It will be back on the agenda likely in January. Nudy’s Cafe now just has to go produce a parking study.

The whole thing was very odd, and having watched a lot of these waivers be approved easily, didn’t seem fair.

First point, members of Borough Council mentioned that the parking garage across West First Avenue from where Nudy’s Cafe will be located in the old Light Parker building is closing as of today. That garage, even if open, would be irrelevant to parking for Nudy’s Cafe. That garage was only available to the public after 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. Nudy’s Cafe isn’t open in the evening.

Secondly, it was never specifically stated and discussed that once SORA West is completed in two years there will be a parking garage with 150 parking spaces available 24/7 for the public. Nudy’s Cafe would actually be the closest restaurant, that isn’t within the redevelopment area, to that garage.

So basically, Borough Council is making Nudy’s Cafe pay for a parking study for a two year issue, when it didn’t make any of the other businesses that have opened in the downtown area in recent years (including one that added the potential for almost 200 additional people during the evening hours).

Thirdly, members of Borough Council stated that they do not think there is any available parking in the downtown area in the mornings. We have no problem parking in the lot on East First Avenue or on the street prior to 11:30 a.m. We park there all the time in the mornings.

Here are some photos we took this morning at 10:30 a.m. in the downtown area:

The public parking deck on East First Avenue had at least 20 empty spots.
Lots of empty spaces on Harry Street.
Lots of open spaces on Spring Mill Avenue.
Every space between the entrance of the parking deck to intersection of Spring Mill Avenue/Harry Street is empty.

So for at least the weekday breakfast hours, there is no parking issue in downtown Conshohocken. Nudy’s Cafe’s breakfast rush is from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

And who in their right mind would want to drive into Conshohocken at rush hour for breakfast? Absolutely no one.

There is a parking issue starting around 11:30 a.m. You can find a spot, but its much harder.

But for the very most part, is anyone driving into Conshohocken to have lunch specifically at Nudy’s Cafe? The answer is of course no. Nudy’s Cafe has eight or nine locations. Each draws from its immediate area. This location will draw from the buildings and businesses are around it.

Will there be business meetings at Nudy’s Cafe? Yes, of course. But these meetings would have happened in downtown Conshy with or without Nudy’s Cafe existing. Parking will be needed for these meetings, but they just chose Nudy’s Cafe over one of the other restaurants. Nudy’s Cafe isn’t going to create more meetings.

The positive aspect of Nudy’s Cafe opening in that location instead of another bar/restaurant is that it’s hours of operation only overlap for lunch. In the immediate downtown area, only Tradestone Cafe has similar hours to Nudy’s Cafe.

Now lets look at the other food driven businesses that received waivers in the past two or three years, which shared operating hours with the bars/restaurants that existed at that time, and weren’t required to do a parking study:

  • Tierra Caliente
  • The Great American Pub (for the rooftop deck)
  • Insomnia Cookies
  • Snap Custom Pizza
  • Eat Greek

All those places, minus the rooftop deck, are open for lunch. All of those places are open for dinner (the rooftop deck is open seasonally and limited to specific evenings).

Combined, they have a much greater impact on parking than Nudy’s Cafe because they are open for two peak periods, lunch and dinner, when parking is the biggest issue.

Members of Borough Council kept saying that they were excited that Nudy’s Cafe is opening in Conshohocken, but they treated them unfairly. Requiring them to spend money on a parking study should be rescinded.

A businesses seeking to move into town deserves better.

Please note that Nudy’s Cafe is going to happen in downtown Conshohocken. It is just going to require jumping through some hoops.

Please note, we have never spoken to anyone who owns or works for Nudy’s Cafe. Thoughts are our own.