Stamford offers incentive to get diners and shoppers downtown

STAMFORD — In hopes of helping to jump start the local economy following the coronavirus downturn, Mayor David Martin announced that for the rest of the month the city’s downtown parking garages will be free for three-hour stays.

“The businesses in the downtown and the rest the city have been very constructive and helpful following the health guidelines from the state, and so we are in the process of reopening the city of Stamford very carefully,” Martin said Thursday while Standing in what has been dubbed the Bedford Piazza, where six restaurants are serving food in the large parking lot behind the west-facing buildings of Bedford Street.

People visiting the piazza, or any downtown businesses, can park in the Bell Street, Bedford Street or Summer Street garages and not have to pay for the first three hours of their stay. They can access the benefit through the ParkMobile app, by entering the code WearAMask.

“It’s programs like this that will help the businesses as well as attract people downtown that are so important,” said Stamford Downtown Special Services District President David Kooris. His organization has been working on initiatives including creating the Bedford Piazza to boost restaurants and other businesses during the pandemic.

“We want to thank the city for what they have done here and forgoing significant amounts of revenue, inviting people into the parking garages,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th, who attended a noontime announcement of the parking benefit, said like others he he has been spending time at home a lot lately. But he said it makes sense to provide ways for people to get out and dine and shop safely.

“Connecticut was the best state of all the 50 states in terms of bringing down our (Covid-19) numbers. And Stamford, which three months ago had a very serious issue, now is showing a near elimination of Covid-19,” Himes said.

“The message here today is city of Stamford is doing it’s part,” he said. “You can come in and park for free.”

He pointed out three electric vehicle chargers that in the lot nearby.

“So, you can bring down the Chevy Volt and charge it while you are sitting outside safely having a good time,” he said.

Martin said the city might extend the free parking in the garages through August, but the decision has not been made yet. Street parking must still be paid for.