BY ADAM NICHOLS
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
For city drivers, wallet-busting parking costs are considered an unfortunate and unavoidable part of life in Manhattan.
But parking your car in a garage or lot doesn't have to empty your wallet.
The Daily News found that for almost every high-priced parking facility in the borough, there is a bargain spot just a short drive away. And the savings can be significant.
At Fifth Ave. and 60th St. near Central Park, a lot with 17 parking spots run by Imperial 785 Garage Corp. charges $28 for up to an hour.
Yet, only a few blocks east, on 60th St. between Second and Third Aves., the 60th Storage Corp. charges $7 for a half hour.
The Imperial lot has been dubbed the city's most expensive parking lot by www.NYCgarages.com, a Web site launched earlier this year that helps drivers compare prices.
"It's a total ripoff," Joanne Torrellas, 30, said after being charged $28 for the half hour she left her car in the lot to bring her child to a doctor. "It's so expensive," the upper East Side mom complained.
Electrician Rafael Burgos, 33, said he drove down from the Bronx and parked in the Imperial lot because he needed to find a spot close to a customer at 59th St. and Madison Ave. "I've got to park somewhere, and this is the only place around here," he said. "I didn't see the price until I was already inside. It's ridiculous. I'm going to have to pay half what I earn on this job on parking."
When The News stopped by the Imperial lot, an attendant tried to stop a photographer from taking pictures of the price list, posted halfway down the one-way entrance ramp.
"I know it's very expensive, but you pay for the location," said the attendant, who declined to give his name.
The founder of NYCgarages.com, Benjamin Sann, said some parking companies go to great lengths to conceal their actual prices, even though they are required by law to display their rates.
"They try to intimidate me, stop me from taking down the prices," Sann said. "I've had attendants close the gates so I couldn't see the boards. I had one threaten me with a baseball bat. They try to hide the prices so you can't see them until you drive in, when it's very difficult to turn around and leave."
But Sann said he has found bargains across the city. "If you look around a bit, there are places that are cheaper than an on-street parking meter," he said.
In Times Square, it costs $20 to park for an hour at the MPG Manhattan Parking Corp. on W.45th St. and Seventh Ave. But a five-minute walk west, drivers pay only $5 to park for an hour at Cosmo Parking on W. 43rd St. at Eighth Ave.
Near Madison Square Garden, drivers are charged $26 to park for an hour at the Icon lot on W. 36th and Broadway. That's $17 more than drivers are charged at 30th St. and 10th Ave. at an Enterprise lot.
On the upper West Side, Rapid Park, located next to the Dakota Towers on Central Park West and 72nd St., charges $23 per hour. For the same price, drivers can leave their car for up to 10 hours at the Icon garage on W. 66th and Broadway.
"The further east or west you go, the more bargains you can find," Sann said. "But people expect it to be expensive, and the pricier garages want you to keep thinking that. That's what I'm trying to do with my Web site - show people they don't have to pay a fortune."
Originally published on August 19, 2006