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      New parking garage aims to help downtown economy

      (Columbia, WACH)- It was a steady Thursday for Lee Haynes at King's Barbershop on Taylor Street.

      The barber said many of his customers that come for a haircut have complained about parking.

      "From getting tickets or having to park a block away from the shop."

      City leaders unveiled the new City Center Parking Garage on Taylor and Sumter Street Thursday. Downtown businesses stand to benefit. The six floor garage has 532 spots. The first level is for short term parking and the rest is for monthly customers.

      Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse Manager Bruce Daniel hopes it will help bring more people to downtown.

      "We hear that it is limited parking. Now with the new garage, people that come to the downtown area for functions and events have somewhere to park."

      The new parking lot is stocked with surveillance cameras and plenty of lighting. It is also state of the art, according to Parking Services Director John Spade.

      "Within the next two weeks, we will have pay by space machines where they can use credit cards, tokens, cash, or smart cards. It makes it a lot more customer friendly."

      With the new parking garage,Daniel hopes the extra foot traffic leads to publicity by word of mouth.

      "We do not do a lot of advertising here. We have our own web page. We send a lot of R.S.V.P cards out."

      Haynes adds,"You have traffic constantly coming through to get to the parking lot back and fourth. That brings you business."

      Monthly spaces will be $65 for unreserved spots, and $85 for reserved ones. Hourly rates for the first level will be $0.75. The machines will not arrive for another two weeks, so hourly parking will be free until then.