Hopkins Parking Lots Are Full Many Days

With all of its parking lots routinely filled in recent weeks, officials at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport plan to reopen the remote Brown Lot in early May.

Airport director Robert Kennedy told The Plain Dealer that the parking squeeze was due to a faster than expected demand for air travel this spring.

The airport has resurfaced and repainted the Brown lot, which is located north of the terminal. It has 500 spaces and charges $11 per day, the least expensive parking option at Hopkins.

An airport-operated shuttle service connects the Brown lot with the terminal.

Even privately owned airport parking lots along Snow Road have been at or near capacity in recent weeks.

Air travel at Hopkins this past March was 91 percent of what it was during the same month in 2019 a year before the onset of the COVID-19 sent air travel spiraling downward.

On March 25, Hopkins saw 32,000 passengers, the highest single-day number since Oct. 25, 2019.

Airport officials said the pandemic also has dramatically reduced the number of passengers who reach the airport via such ride sharing services as Uber and Lyft.

They attribute that to reluctance by many travelers to share space with strangers, a byproduct of the pandemic.

The airport operates five parking lots with prices ranging from $15 to $20 per day with a combined 6,350 spaces.

A repair project to the Smart Garage at the airport has led to the closing off of 200 spaces that won’t be available until late 2022.

A small surface lot next to the garage has been transformed from public parking to employee-only parking.

Kennedy acknowledged the airport lost revenue by taking those spaces out of public parking inventory.

He said most airport workers park off site and ride a shuttle to the terminal. Without elaborating he said the spaces in the employee-only lot were created due to an operational need.

In a related development, the airport may creating additional parking on the site of the current Sheraton Cleveland Airport Hotel.

The Plain Dealer reported the hotel is millions of dollars in debt and faces closure later this year.

The hotel owner, LN Hospitality, has missed making rent and other payments to the city, according to court documents and it defaulted on a $12.5 million loan from an Arkansas bank that has since filed a lawsuit against the hotel owner.

The hotel remains open for business but its occupancy has fallen dramatically since Hopkins lost its status as a hub operation for Continental and later United Airlines.

Both carriers used the hotel to put up flight crews and travelers stranded between flights.

The hotel, which opened in 1959 and was expanded in 1972, has 243 available rooms and a 468-space parking lot.

Cleveland city inspectors last November “identified numerous maintenance, safety and deficient care issues of the hotel,” according to court documents.

The Hopkins master plan envisions the land on which the hotel is located being used for additional parking.

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