The city of Seattle has lowered parking rates for the summer to boost business at its struggling Pacific Place garage.

The city of Seattle has lowered parking rates for the summer to boost business at its struggling Pacific Place garage.

Rates at the downtown garage were reduced, starting Wednesday, trimming prices 20 to 60 percent depending on the length of stay. The maximum cost for evenings and weekends was lowered to $6 for evenings and $10 on weekends.

“We’re experimenting with lower parking rates at Pacific Place Parking Garage to see if we can bring in more business,” Mayor Mike McGinn said in a statement.

He said the city will monitor the results to see if the pricing strategy attracts more users and improves the city’s bottom line.

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The garage has been losing nearly $500,000 a year and needed a $1.5 million loan from the city’s general fund this year to meet its debt payments.

City Councilmember Jean Godden, who chairs the council finance committee, said she encouraged the mayor to reduce rates sooner rather than later.

“I am pleased quick action is being taken. This will benefit residents, downtown retailers and some nearby arts venues such as ACT Theatre,” Godden said. The city’s efforts to make up for falling income over the past few years by increasing garage parking fees may have been counterproductive, she said.

“Sometimes you’re not better off raising rates to get more revenue.”

The garage has been hard-hit by the recession, with fewer people taking advantage of its convenient access to the downtown shopping district, including the Pacific Place mall and cinemas, directly above, and a skybridge to the flagship Nordstrom store.

In 2004, more than 100,000 cars parked there eight months out of 12.

By 2009, the garage served more than 100,000 cars in a month only once — in December. Rates rose from $2 an hour in 2003 to $5 an hour in 2009.

This year, the city has moved to a market-rate strategy for on-street parking, raising rates in some neighborhoods, including downtown, to $4 an hour, while reducing rates in 11 other neighborhoods.

Under the new rates for Pacific Place garage, patrons will be charged $2 for 30 minutes (it previously cost a minimum of $5 to park), $3 for one hour, $5 for two hours and $7 for three hours.

The city is also offering a $6 game-day special for fans of the Mariners, Sounders, Seahawks and Huskies. People can arrive no more than three hours before the game and must present a game ticket when paying.

The new, lower rates will run through Sept. 30.

Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or

Information from Seattle Times archives is included

in this report.