By Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4) – Six weeks after the Cherry Creek Mall implemented a paid parking system, mall employees and at least one store owner say the pay parking scheme has crippled business.

“Traffic is only getting worse,” said Mike Murphy, who owns seven Steve Madden shoe stores, including his flagship location in the Cherry Creek mall.

He says Cherry Creek mall used to be his number one store for sales, but now there are days where it ranks number seven for sales. He said that since the paid parking began, sales are down 20 percent.

Mike Murphy (credit: CBS)

Mike Murphy (credit: CBS)

After years of free parking, the mall implemented a “smart parking” system starting Jan. 17.

The first hour of parking is free, the next two hours cost $3 and the charges continue after that.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Mall managers say the paid parking was “essential” because so many non-mall customers were parking for free but not actually shopping.

Murphy says his customers can easily afford to pay the parking fees, but are choosing not to out of principle.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“A lot of people aren’t even coming to the mall. I don’t even have that opportunity because they aren’t here. I’m mad because my customers are mad. They’re the ones talking to me every day. I feel like I’m the one who should protect them.”

Gil Rudawsky, a spokesperson for the Cherry Creek mall, declined to discuss the CBS4 findings, saying that after a month of paid parking, it was too soon to draw conclusions about the impact of the new parking system.

He declined to be interviewed or issue a formal statement on behalf of the mall.

A CBS4 producer recently traveled to the mall on a weekday with a hidden camera to see what employees were saying about the impact of the new parking fees.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

A mall employee said, “If anything you are actually hurting stores, people are rushing out just to make the free hour thing. Ever since this parking thing everyone wants to shop in other places.”

At a store inside the mall, an employee said the paid parking has “killed traffic. It sucks real bad. No one comes in.”

Elsewhere, at a snack stop, an employee told our producer, “the mall has been pretty dead ever since they started the paid parking.”

One store employee told CBS4 there has been a positive impact.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“I actually found it’s a lot better for us,” he said. “We don’t have so many people hanging around, the parking lot is a lot easier to navigate, it’s a little quieter.”

A new Facebook page started this week – “Cherry Creek Free Parking” – has already garnered hundreds of comments from people who say the pay system keeps them away from the mall.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Several commenters identifying themselves as employees at mall stores say the lack of foot traffic is now affecting the hours they work and their paychecks.

Murphy said the customers who he does see don’t linger or browse because they don’t want to spend more than an hour and incur parking fees.

“They want to rush out the door,” said Murphy.

CBS4 Investigator Brian Maass has been with the station more than 30 years uncovering waste, fraud and corruption. Follow him on Twitter @Briancbs4.

Comments (7)
  1. Ryan Bowers says:

    Talk to the movie theater and see how their business has been. With several other theaters within a 10 minute drive, see how many people are willing to pay extra to watch a movie.

  2. Really? Freakin duh. The mall was already struggling before paid parking was implemented. Whoever thought up this scheme must of known that this would be the death knoll. Two possibilities: they knew and want the Cherry Creek Mall to be razed for more hotels and condos or they have no brain in their head and have no knowledge of human behavior.

  3. Dan West says:

    Haven’t been back to the mall. Won’t return.

  4. Steve Litt says:

    Haven’t been to the mall since the parking fees began. It’s not the money so much (just a little) as it is the constant thinking about fees, no fees, and just the hassle in and out. I’ll shop elsewhere where I don’t have to think about it.

  5. Lizzie says:

    I used to go to Cherry Creek once a month, but haven’t been since December. Instead I drive all the way down to Park Meadows. I don’t want to be nickel-and-dimed to death during my leisure time.

  6. Gary Wilson says:

    I used to shop at Cherry Creek exclusively, but I haven’t been since the free parking ended. I can afford to pay, but I refuse. I am happy to drive the extra 10 minutes to go to Park Meadows until Cherry Creek pulls their heads out of the sand and reverses this travesty.

  7. I won’t shop there. It is an arrogant & selfish money grab. To blame it on construction workers, commuters … or whatever is a cop out. Paid parking was not the only intelligent solution for a supposedly smart business. Hasta la vista baby!!!

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