On street parking in Downtown Jacksonville.

On October 8, a Downtown Investment Authority (DIA) committee received a proposal from Elite Parking Solutions of America for the company to take over Jacksonville’s public parking. Elite is headed by Dane Grey, who had resigned from the DIA board the day before, and was subsequently appointed to the JEA board. The proposal, which has several different parts, will be presented to the DIA Strategic Implementation Committee at 3 p.m. Monday, November 25.

The proposal would involve a contract to take over city parking for a 30 year term. Elite would set parking rates and manage paid street parking Downtown as well as parking in public garages. In exchange, Elite would:

  • Provide a minimum annual contribution to DIA. This would make up for the parking money DIA would be losing in the transition. In addition to the minimum contribution, Elite proposes contributing an additional proportionate share to DIA if profits increase.
  • Upgrade parking meters and facilities to allow for paying via smart phones. Elite would cover the upgrade costs.
  • Introduce new services that Public Parking currently does not offer, including valet parking and park and ride.
  • Provide a $6 million upfront payment for capital improvement.
  • Most controversially, Elite would expand paid parking operations outside Downtown Jacksonville to Riverside and San Marco. Residents of those areas were not consulted, and Riverside Avondale Preservation and the San Marco Preservation Society have opposed their neighborhoods being included in Elite’s plan.

Nashville’s plan

Lower Broadway in 2019. (Visit Music City Facebook Page)

One of Jacksonville’s peer cities, Nashville, has also recently explored the option of privatizing city parking. In early 2019, then Mayor David Briley announced a proposal from LAZ Parking Georgia to assume operations of the city’s parking. LAZ’s proposal for Nashville covered similar ground to Elit’s in Jacksonville. In this deal, LAZ would:

  • Provide a minimum annual contribution to the city, to replace money the city would lose in the move. This includes an additional proportionate share for revenue over the minimum.
  • Modernize parking infrastructure and operations.
  • Provide a $34 million upfront payment.
  • Work with the city to add another 2,000 street parking spots downtown and in the Gulch, West End, and SoBro neighborhoods by 2024.

In Nashville’s case, the push for privatization was driven by the city’s need to cover a $38 million budget shortfall. As in Jacksonville, the proposal was met with criticism in some quarters, leading city leaders to pause the plan so that taxpayers could vet it. In October, a county judge ruled that proper process had not been followed, and the city would have to start over again if it wanted to privatize parking. Current Nashville mayor John Cooper’s office issued a statement saying, “This parking privatization was a bad deal for the taxpayers. A judge has now struck it down. It’s time to move forward and develop a better plan to manage our sidewalks, curbsides, and parking spaces.”

Ville vs. Ville by the numbers

A rendering of Nashville Yards.

In a side by side comparison, Nashville’s proposed plan was projected to bring in far more money to the city’s coffers than Jacksonville’s, both in the short term and the long term, despite covering a similarly sized area and similar number of parking spaces.

Jacksonville: Elite Parking Solutions of America’s proposal

  • Street parking: 1,650 spaces
  • Total parking including garages: 44,000 spaces
  • Initial payout: $6,000,000
  • Annual minimum contribution to DIA: $1,092,277.49
  • 30 year estimate (minimum contribution): $32,768324.70
  • Estimated total contribution to city over 30 years: $196,609,948.20 (if the “combined profitability to city” is annual).


Nashville: LAZ Parking Georgia proposal

  • Street parking: 2,000 spaces
  • Total parking including garages: 39,402 spaces
  • Initial payout: $34,000,000
  • Annual minimum contribution: $1,500,000
  • 30 year estimate (minimum contribution) : $45,000,000
  • Estimated total contribution to city over 30 years: $325,000,000


Policy differences In addition to revenue, there are other noteworthy differences between the two plans. Nashville’s agreement would have left parking policy decisions with the City of Nashville, not LAZ. As such, the city would retain control of parking rates. Under the current Jacksonville proposal, Elite would set rates, which it plans to raise to “market conditions.”

As Jaxsons prepare to discuss the merits of privatizing parking and the current proposal, Nashville’s example is worth keeping in mind by way of comparison.

Article by the managing partners of The Jaxson.