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(South A1A)
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3. Divine Animal
4. Sunshine Furniture

5. Many Medical

Is paid parking becoming latest trend downtown?


Apparently, privately owned pay- to-park lots in downtown Vero Beach are proliferating.

Six months after the new owners of the lot across Old Dixie Highway from the Kilted Mermaid and Fishack began charging people to park after business hours and on weekends – and towing dozens of cars to make their point – the longtime owners of the lot behind Vero Prime plan to do the same.

In fact, the owners of that lot – located on the east side of 15th Avenue, south of 21st Street, across from the rear of the Indian River County Courthouse – started charging a flat fee of $5 to park there a couple of weeks ago.

The owners stopped charging – temporarily – when the police informed them they needed a permit, which they plan to obtain this week.

“We didn’t know we needed one,” said longtime insurance broker Gerry Thistle, managing partner of the local group that owns the buildings along 14th Avenue, between 20th and 21st streets, as well as most of the parking lot behind them.

“Now that we do, we’ll do what’s necessary to get the appropriate permit from the city,” he added. “The parking situation downtown has become difficult over the years, and we have to make sure our tenants have the ability to park there.”

Thistle said the lot has 78 total spaces, including 16 in the southwest corner that belong to the city and will continue to offer free parking. The other 62 are owned by his group, which plans to resume charging $5 after 5 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends, possibly as soon as this weekend.

The owners will use the money to pay an attendant to collect fees and maintain the lot, Thistle said.