Downtown Roanoke shops, restaurants will validate parking

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Do you like going to downtown Roanoke? Do you like the word free? Well on your next trip downtown you may be able to put those two together.

With the sun shining and the temperature pushing 82 degrees Thursday, winter seems far off. But downtown Roanoke knows that holiday shopping is right around the corner and it wants a cut of it.

"Shopping locally is always great for the community. We have a lot of small mom and pop shops and restaurants here that we would like to see people come and enjoy downtown," Downtown Roanoke Inc. Economic Development Specialist Dani Poe said.

To help encourage people to come downtown, there's a new voucher program which lets you park for free.

"We would like to get people to come and shop and they can receive two hours free parking with a purchase at participating stores," Poe said.

The PARK DRI validation pilot program runs through January and gets you two hours free in select downtown garages. Just look for shops like Walkabout Outfitter with the sign in the window, or ask your favorite downtown food spot if they have the vouchers.

"There's always been some sort of voucher program down here but we had to pay for it and stuff like that so we weren't sure if we wanted to do it but this is a free opportunity that's going to get people down here and allow them to stay longer downtown which I think is a good thing," Thomas/Walkabout Outfitter Store Manager Tim Pohlad said.

Downtown Roanoke is also bringing bring back Elmwood on Ice this season and promises a new special surprise. That with all the new development downtown and this program has businesses dreaming big.

"We've very excited about it because we've had a lot of customers in the past complain about parking or come rushing through to try to get something real quick because they don't have enough time on their meter or something like that, so hopefully it will do some good stuff for the downtown Roanoke parking," Pohlad said.