Image of construction site on St. Elmo Avenue
Construction site on St. Elmo Avenue

Business employees face parking issues amid construction

Parking issues plague Bethesda’s Elmo Avenue due to new apartment construction. Neighborhood businesses and residents complain construction workers are taking over the downtown parking garage, leaving few open options.

Cordell- St.Elmo Avenue is grappling with parking and traffic issues due to the construction site for a new apartment. The situation has frustrated business employees and local residents, citing a lack of parking slots and increased noise disruptions as construction workers take over the ҹֱ County parking garage 40.

Image of Cordell- St. Elmo Avenue Montgomery parking garage
Cordell- St. Elmo Avenue Montgomery parking garage (Siddhi Mahatole/ ҹֱ)

Employees who go to work on St. Elmo Avenue have been involved in a parking struggle with construction workers for the last 15 months.

TJ Callahan, an employee from one affected business around the block, expressed frustration. “The workers of the construction started using up the garage. Everybody who drives here for work faces this issue,” said Callahan.

The issue extends beyond mere inconvenience, as employees are confronted with a need for more available parking spaces during their working hours. 

“They get here by 8 a.m. and start working early, so there are no spots left for us until we come here,” Callahan said.

Businesses in the vicinity are feeling the impact, with complaints ranging from the loss of customer traffic to the financial burden of parking tickets. 

Jose Cerpis, the manager of Chicken on the Run, voiced his concerns and said, “They park their vehicles here and disappear all day long. We understand that they are working, but it causes inconvenience to us and our customers.”

Jeremy Redd, a construction worker on the site, acknowledged the parking issue but emphasized the need for more parking space. 

Pictures of new apartment construction
New apartment construction causing traffic issues (Siddhi Mahatole/ ҹֱ)

“It would be convenient for us if ҹֱ County officials increase more parking space in the garage. Long-term parking would be considerate, but yeah, it doesn’t leave a lot of spots right now. I don’t want to park on the street because I don’t want anyone to mess with my vehicle. There have been traffic issues around the block, but we need to work anyway,” Redd said.

ҹֱ reached out to the construction owner, Sophia Bethesda, but has not heard back.

Monica Chavce, a receptionist at Franz Sebastian Salon, shared her business’s challenges with ongoing construction-related parking problems. 

“All of the construction workers park right here because it is closest to their site. I have been here for six months now. Since there are no spots left on the top floor which is all-day parking, I have to park on the second floor of the garage which is 3-hour parking, and I have to keep visiting the garage in between my working hours to top up the payment,” said Chavce.

ҹֱ contacted ҹֱ County officials about the issue but has not responded. 

Picture from Cordell- St. Elmo Avenue block
Cordell- St. Elmo Avenue block (Siddhi Mahatole/ ҹֱ)

Chavce is concerned about the adverse impact on businesses.

“There are clients who don’t want to deal with these issues of loud sound, traffic issues, and parking space. We are losing some business because of it,” said Chavee. “Some employees here have gotten more than nine tickets because they are so busy in the working hours that they forget to top up the payment. If you don’t pay it in two weeks, it keeps adding up, which is not affordable at all.”

Chavce said that if employees and customers continue to face challenges in finding parking spaces and dealing with the associated disruptions, businesses may experience a decline in foot traffic, resulting in financial losses. The persistence of these parking and traffic issues poses a threat to the vitality of local businesses.

Siddhi Mahatole

Siddhi Mahatole covers Bethesda and Chevy Chase for ҹֱ. She currently studies international journalism as a graduate student at American University. She is also a Fulbright Scholar from 2022.

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