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Parking when you come to This House of Books

parking spaces downtownThis House of Books is located in the central core of Downtown Billings, at the corner of Third Avenue and North Broadway. We are among the best located businesses in Billings for finding convenient parking.

Parking meters and metered streets downtown as of August 21, 2014 
Source: Billings Downtown Parking Strategic Plan final report - April 2015 

On street parking

There are more than 700 two-hour meters located in the Downtown core. The great majority of the 700+ meters are with, at most, about four blocks of our door. Most charge 75¢ per hour. You can pay for fractions of an hour. Meters are free on weekends and after 5:00 PM. There are green-domed meters that charge more; the proceeds from these are shared with the Downtown Billings Association to fund various downtown beautification projects.

Off street parking

All parking garages are open for use 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

  • Park 1 is entirely devoted to monthly parking, so is not available to shoppers.     
    • (About 1 block from us)     
    • Free public parking after 6:30 PM and on weekends and holidays.
  • Park 2 Garage - 2651 First Avenue North.     
    • About 340 yards (3 blocks from us)
  • Park 3 Garage - 210 North 27th Street (connected to City Hall).     
    • About 200 yards (2 blocks from our door)     
    • No charge after 5:30 PM and on weekends and holidays     
    • The entrance to Park 3 features a mural of Billings history.
  • Empire Parking Garage - (next to Northern Hotel)     
    • About 320 yards (3 blocks from us)
  • Parking fees: free for the first hour, then $1 per hour for each additional hour, up to a maximum of $7 per day.

Peak time

Peak off-street parking demand occurs between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. During this time, the Park 3 garage is likely to have limited space. That said, I personally have nearly always been able to find an empty space there. Even during peak times, there will be many spaces available at Park 2 and at Empire Garage. On-street parking on North Broadway and North 29th Streets will be in demand during peak hours, but still about a third of the spaces are likely to be available even in this more crowded area. On the avenues (east-west) Second and Third are likely to be in greatest demand, but about a third of the spaces on Fourth are likely to be available.

Why do we have to pay for parking?

Parking is "free" at the big box stores on the West End, isn't it? No, it is not. The business that owns the parking lot pays taxes on the land, carries the cost of maintaining the parking surface, keeping the parking area clean and safe, lighting it at night, and so on. Maintaining a place for customers to park their vehicles is a cost of doing business. However, the simple reality is that businesses pay for nothing. In one way or another, it is the customer who always pays those costs. The idea of "free parking" is a marketing concept, not reality.

Parking meters

Consider the way parkings spaces fill up. The spaces nearest the door of the business fill first, and people who come later have to park further away. As a customer, you want to find a convient space without a lot of hunting around. As a business owner, the last thing you want if you are is for someone to store their vehicle for the next 8 hours in the parking space in front of your front door. People need an incentive to move their cars to areas that have less demand. The small fee for parking at a meter encourages it to happen. Having a parking meter on a highly desirable space reduces the chances that someone will just stay in that space for hours, thereby increasing the chances that newly arriving customers will be able to park in a convenient location.

Are parking garages safe?

Yes. We interviewed police to confirm this answer. The answer was conclusive and based on evidence from years of experience.

It is possible to imagine a lot of things, but in this case those things are not happening. We know the garages are safe because the parking garages are monitored. Transients are not roaming the garages or lurking in the stairwells. There are, from time to time, property crimes reported in garages but no violent crimes. This is the same as parking on the street anywhere in town. The property crimes involve someone leaving something valuable-looking on the seat of a car in plain sight. Another garage patron sees it, smashes the car window and then takes it. This is a sort of crime that would have been entirely preventable just by putting things out of sight. Whatever crimes are reported do not involve confrontation with a victim. When you are in a parking garage you are in a monitored building.