Representatives of several event venues said parking is a notable factor for customers, and they are hearing more complaints about the lack of parking downtown.

The Business Journal spoke with representatives of event venues located outside of downtown Grand Rapids about the growing issue of parking.

Dan DeWard, owner of Studio D2D, called it a “huge concern” for customers as they’re shopping for venues. He said his business books about 150 corporate events and weddings per year, so they get a lot of feedback.

“Our client feedback is they love the district and the downtown vibe. But parking, especially for weddings, is so difficult,” DeWard said.

He said many hosts are afraid of forcing their guests, especially the elderly or disabled, to navigate downtown streets at night.

Two of his business’s three venues are outside downtown, at 401 Hall St. SW, which he said has been a “huge sales advantage” because many customers book there to make parking convenient for guests, he has noticed.

He recently acquired a downtown venue in The Harris Building, at 111 S. Division St., and was able to strike a deal with Ellis Parking to offer valet services for all bookings there.

“Without that, I would not have opened a space there,” DeWard said.

“Otherwise, our booking ratios would have drastically dropped to where it may have been difficult to sustain.”

The new venue has not had its first event yet, but it has been “getting bookings like crazy,” DeWard said.

Representatives from the Goei Center, The Cheney Place and Prince Conference Center agreed their clients see parking as an important factor.

Representatives from Frederik Meijer Gardens, English Hills Country Club and The Pinnacle Center said, however, that mention of lack of downtown parking does not typically come up at their venues.

Bill Worst, Pinnacle Center owner, said the majority of his customers appreciate the venue’s central location between Grand Rapids and Holland.

To read the entire story, pick up the Grand Rapids Business Journal or visit their website.