Mall owner backs out of plans for paid parking at D-FW shopping center

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That was a short experiment.

The “Up Front Plus” parking signs on spaces that cost $7 to $12 to occupy at a popular Fort Worth shopping center — University Park Village — have been removed.

Earlier this year, Simon Property Group, turned a few convenient spots in front of the Apple Store, Athleta and lululemon into paid spaces with instructions and a QR code that left some shoppers pretty upset.

Customers weren’t using the spaces even on historically busy weekends, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram which first reported in late January that the signs had gone up. WFAA interviewed one customer who said that Simon might think it’s convenient, but it was a “deterrent” for her.

Shoppers rebelled on social media and apparently Simon was listening. The Up Front Plus signs are gone.

Representatives for Simon Property, the largest U.S. mall operator, did not respond to requests for comment.

Unless you’re a fan of valet parking, you’re probably not paying to park and shop in Dallas-Fort Worth.

Paid parking at hotels and at sports and entertainment venues such as AT&T Stadium and Six Flags over Texas has long been part of that scene, but in Texas, malls and shopping centers have acres and acres of free parking.

That’s not true in other metro areas. A popular shopping center in Los Angeles, The Grove which is owned by a local developer, has charged to get into its parking garages for years.

The same is true at malls around suburban New York. Newport Centre in Jersey City, N.J., which is owned by Simon and is across the Hudson River from Manhattan, charges $4 for 0-3 hours. Spending the day there? The rate for 6-24 hours or for a lost ticket is $27.

“We do not have plans to charge for parking!” said Kristen Gibbins, marketing strategy executive at NorthPark Center’s marketing strategy manager said in an email. NorthPark has seven valet stands and the cost is $9, but self-parking is free.

Valet is offered too at Highland Park Village, Galleria Dallas and Stonebriar Centre in Frisco, which are not owned by Simon.

Indianapolis-based Simon may try again. Simon’s other local shopping centers are Firewheel Town Center in Garland, North East Mall in Hurst, Hulen Mall, Shops at Clearfork in Fort Worth, Premium Outlets in Allen, Premium Outlets in Grand Prairie and Grapevine Mills.

Twitter: @MariaHalkias

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