Downtown Lakeland will soon have evening valet service

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Lakeland will soon join cities including Tampa and St. Pete by adding valet service downtown.

“People want to be assured they can park reasonably close when they come downtown. As the area is expanding, so is our need for convenient parking,” said Julie Townsend with Lakeland Downtown Development Authority. “We have several new restaurants opening in the next 18 months, so that will add about a thousand seats to the downtown area.”

The Downtown Development Authority is in charge of the project. Starting Thursday the agency is accepting bids from valet companies.

“We are looking at some city-owned lots that are a block or two away from the core of downtown where we’re planning to provide the service. So those valets are going to be running,” Townsend said.

Marco Franca helped lead the charge. His new restaurant Posto 9 will open in December.

“A lot of people think convenience is to arrive somewhere and park right in front. We don’t have 500 spots in front of Posto 9,” Franca said. “Plus, it’s also part of the experience of eating out today.”

Posto 9 and other businesses have already committed to validating their customers valet tickets. “Every business is not be necessarily going to participate. For those who don’t, the customer will have to pay,” Townsend said.

The goal is to turn downtown Lakeland into an evening destination. “We are looking at every opportunity to get people down here so if they think parking is an obstacle in their mind, we want to make sure we address that,” Townsend said.

Valet parking is expected to be implemented in the fall.

To fill out a survey on issues such as costs, go here.

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