More parking or more parks: the future of downtown Paducah

PADUCAH — Leigh Greenwell has lived in Paducah her entire life. She probably couldn’t remember how many times she’s been downtown to visit the riverfront or go shopping. She can remember being unable to find parking downtown near her favorite spots during certain times of year and day.

Parking is an important part of her shopping experience. “The closer you can get, the better off you are,” Greenwell said, “If you have to walk a half a mile, it’s kind of hard when its this kind of weather.”

Paducah City Commissioner Gerald  Watkins said downtown Paducah has gained more businesses and residents, but it hasn’t gained as much parking.

“There are some empty buildings downtown, and the rent is reasonable, so we want people to locate downtown — but we need more parking,” Watkins said.

He wants to propose using the Kresge building on Broadway Street between 3rd and 4th streets as the new spot for a parking lot. The building is slated for demolition before the summer this year.

“I just think the biggest need for everyone and this community is to provide parking places in downtown Paducah,” Watkins said. “To attract more people and bring the dollars down there so these businesses can prosper.”

Some areas downtown offer limited time for parking and many businesses offer parking only for their customers.

One downtown business owner said he passed over a location in the area near the Kresge building.

“One of the issues we did have to take into consideration was that fact that there is just very little on-street parking at that particular area,” said Mike Reber, owner of Mike’s Kettle Bell Club. “That wasn’t the only reason we didn’t take it but it was a big concern.”

Instead, he opted for a location closer to a parking lot near the river front.

Other city officials have different visions for the Kresge Building — another business or another park.

“Yes, we have green spaces here and there and everywhere downtown Paducah, but we don’t have near enough parking,” Greenwell said.