The owner of the Nishi building in NewActon has defended its new parking regime which no longer provides cinema patrons with a discount.
Wilson Parking operates the underground parking station and has moved to a licence plate recognition system that includes pre-payment. However, the discount is a matter between the Palace Electric Cinema and the Nishi owner, Molonglo Group.
They are in negotiations over the removal of the discount on 5 October, which Palace says has hurt its business and prompted many complaints.
Parking rates at Nishi are now $6 for 1-2 hours, $10 for 2-3 hours, $12 for 3-4 hours, with a flat rate of $16 on Sundays and public holidays.
Depending on the length of a film or how long cinema goers may wish to relax with a glass of wine or coffee, the extra parking slug could be significant now that the 50 per cent discount has been axed, especially on a Sunday, and puts the Palace at a competitive disadvantage with its main competitor, Dendy.
The upfront payment also means most err on the side of caution and overestimate, although Molonglo says patrons can pay from their cinema seats.
At Dendy, parking is in The Canberra Centre, which charges $4 for two hours, $6 for three and $10 for for four, with a $2 flat rate on Sundays and public holidays.
But the Nishi carpark is not large and there obviously have been management issues, with Molonglo pointing to the need for quicker access, more turnover and reduced long-term parking.
Palace Chief Executive Benjamin Zeccola said the cinema supported Molonglo’s efforts to speed up exit and entry, freeing up more bays for daytime use and attempting to make payment easier but it “deeply regrets the removal of the validation system and remains hopeful it can be reinstated in some way”.
“Palace put this view to the landlord when first notified of their intention to remove it. Molonglo has offered the cinema a form of promotional support however this has not been accepted. Palace has taken the month since implementation to absorb the impact of the changes and we will continue to negotiate for a better outcome on behalf of users of the cinema and carpark,” he said.
Molonglo Director Johnathon Efkarpidis said a number of factors had led to the change, that may or may not seem apparent to all users. “It’s not always black and white,” he said.
Mr Efkarpidis said the comparison with Dendy was not a fair one as the Nishi parking area was much smaller and parking rates were generally set based on location, number of car parks, amenities and users in the area.
He said the move to the new system was to allow for much quicker access and egress – which he said was not the case at The Canberra Centre – and to reduce the number of long-term parkers and free up more short-term casual parking spots for cinema and restaurant patrons.
He said the standard rates from 1 to 4 hours were reduced, to make them fairer for visitors to NewActon.
“Palace Cinema offers considerable discounts with their Movie Club tickets and they also offer discounts on various films at different times. Again, if discount is all that is being compared, then I believe that their discounts make up for any additional dollars spent on car parking,” he said.
Mr Efkarpidis said guests could also pay for their car parking while in the cinema, rather than queue on the way in or out, which was not offered at The Canberra Centre.
Mr Zeccola said although the removal of the parking validation system was doing the cinema harm, he acknowledged that Molonglo was otherwise a very good landlord. “We are confident that with a little time a solution can be found within the constraints of the technology,” he said.
Parking is available nearby outside of NewActon.