Life made easier for drivers at Westlake

Anita Nail, who has been a customer of Westlake Shopping Center since 1960, said she was glad the center opened its six-story parking garage last weekend.

Nail, who drives to Westlake from her home in San Francisco’s Sunset district, said she avoids shopping on weekends because the center “turns into a zoo.”

“I think it’s great they’re providing parking because there are always people fighting over parking spots,” she said.

A week ago, the mall — which recently added more than one dozen new stores and restaurants — started letting cars into its 644-spot garage on Lake Merced Boulevard, helping alleviate problems caused by an onslaught of cars sharing 1,800 spaces around the center.

“That will significantly relieve the parking congestion for our customers,” Kimco Realty Corp. property manager Linda Larson said.

The structure’s completion has had negative results for Banana Island restaurant, which is obscured from view by the garage.

“A lot of customers pass by and don’t know where the restaurant is,” manager Ada Lin said.

“We had to teach old customers how to get in, but with new customers, they don’t even know our phone number,” she said. “People think we are closed.”

Lin said the restaurant has lost at least 20 percent of its business. Larson said she hopes the garage will attract shoppers and benefit the restaurant. But keeping the garage clean may not be easy — since its opening, the bathroom has received its share of graffiti.

The garage will house several shops on the ground floor, including Massage Envy, a clinic with several Peninsula locations. The clinic’s owner, Angeline Stafford, said the location is ideal.

“I hope we’ll get walk-ins from Lake Merced Boulevard,” said Stafford, who plans to open in about four months. Clothing chain store T.J. Maxx is scheduled to open Sunday.

svasilyuk@examiner.com

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