Charging for apartment parking – part 2

Featured, Policy — By on May 3, 2012 10:03 pm

I received the West Calhoun Neighborhood Council newsletter today. In it, there is a story about a new real estate project at Chowen Avenue and the Midtown Greenway. The project, called Dwell, is proposed by Bigos Group. The project, as it stands now, contains 162 units in a six story building.

The Bigos' Dwell Project

This map, produced by, provides some context for the site and some of the underlying issues the community has.

The WCNC board sent a letter to Bigos (available here) that outlined what they liked about the project and what they were concerned about and suggested ways to deal with those concerns. WCNC stated the positives are:
– “Building on an underutilized parcel of land.”
– “Connecting to the Greenway, the future SW LRT Station, the commercial node and the natural amenities close by.”
– “Adding to the housing stock of the community.”
– “Mitigating brownfield land.”
– “Enhancing the neighborhood’s general desire for population density.”
– “Seizing an opportunity to enhance the area.”

WCNC went on to state that with the probable Southwest LRT’s West Lake Station (just down the block) would result in no on street parking, and therefore WCNC:
– “Advocate for one off-street parking space per bedroom or studio/efficiency in both new and old buildings.”
– “Advocate for no additional charge for off-street parking.”
– “Advocate for guest parking accommodations.”
– “Eliminate the encroachment of shadowing on the Greenway, which will reduce safety, increase the maintenance and impede the quality of the use of this urban bike corridor.”
– “Advocate for a different configuration of the built environment to minimize the massive shadowing by either stepping back a structure from the Greenway or build a tall and lean tower by the Greenway.”
– “Enhance the livability of the community.”
– “Advocate for architectural upgrades of the exterior finishings.”

What I find interesting, and commendable, is that the WCNC sees the redevelopment of the site as a positive and cite density as a benefit. But they go on to talk about having the developer provide one parking stall per bedroom and that that parking should be included in the rent.

As discussed previously, parking included in rent penalizes those who do not own cars. It also encourages people to move into that unit who own car(s). In this case, WCNC even talks about the future LRT stop nearby, which you would think would lead to fewer cars being located at the building because it’d be even easier to live there without a car.

I also find it interesting about the one stall per bedroom as opposed to the standard one stall per unit. This is something that usually gets discussed in college campus areas where multiple individuals rent bedrooms and nearby residents are concerned about tons of cars clogging up side streets. I can vouch that as a former resident of University Village at 26th and University Avenue SE, most students who had cars there sure seemed to park up to two blocks away on the street than pay to rent the parking there. But for those who could afford it and felt it a worthwhile expense, they parked in the building. The streets nearby generally were industrial.

So at Chowen and the Midtown Greenway (south side), there are limited streets to park on in the area due to the the Midtown Greenway, the golf course, and no parking streets like Excelsior or Lake. With the already high density neighborhood seemingly having a lot of cars on the limited streets, it isn’t a surprise that residents are concerned about losing the little parking they have.

But, as I’ve said before, I don’t think it is appropriate for parking to be included in rent because it. While certainly the neighborhood has the authority to voice their opinion, hopefully this request doesn’t get traction at the City when it goes to approve the project. If we’re going to invest a billion dollars into SW LRT, then I certainly hope that we build additional density without requiring large amounts of parking or that residents using transit have to pay for a parking stall that they’re not using.

Lastly, I’m not endorsing this project or minimizing their other concerns. This commentary is strictly related to parking.

Thatcher Imboden

How cities work and change, how they are the product of their inhabitants and outside forces, and the resulting livability keep me thinking and dreaming about the future. I work in transit oriented development and have a background in urban real estate development. I am Past President of an Uptown business organization, grew up in Uptown, was on an Uptown neighborhood association Board, and am an Uptown and Lyn-Lake historian.

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  1. Phil says:

    Maybe the neighborhood should ask the developer to provide free transit and NiceRide passes instead of free parking to attract and incentivize car free households! One can only dream though…

    • Cedar Phillips says:

      Are there any current incentives to offering on-site HOURCAR locations? (fewer required parking spots or the like?) I would think that an HOURCAR right there by the building would be a big draw for potential residents aiming to ditch the car (or at least one car, if a two-car household), and if developers don’t yet automatically consider HOURCAR as a big selling point, perhaps the city and the neighborhoods could get more fully behind the program. I think a lot more people would be willing to consider going without a car if they felt confident that they’d have easy access to one when they needed it. Uptown has a number of locations these days, but there are still some big gaps. And to have one right there at your building would be like having your own personal car, only cheaper and easier!

  2. Cedar Phillips says:

    I agree that it’s pretty silly to require massive amounts of parking at a property practically adjacent to LRT. Doesn’t sound like they thought that one through.

  3. Brad says:

    What does Meg Tuthill think about this? More parking and wider roads I assume. #stopMeg2013

  4. Urbanite says:

    So, transit-oriented developments are illegal now? welcome to the 1950’s folks!

    • Thatcher Imboden says:

      Not illegal. This was simply a neighborhood suggestion to the developer that was copied to the city council person (Betsy Hodges). I highly doubt it will be required, should the project get approved. The project has had some issues with shadowing on the Greenway, so they’ll have to figure that out.

      Neighborhood’s inform the Planning Commission and City Council. They do not have any formal approval capacity as it relates to the project’s entitlements.

  5. Alex says:

    Maybe they should consider allowing parking on Excelsior in the off-peak hours. I can’t imagine the street needs four lanes at that time. And I don’t see why the side streets would no longer allow parking post-LRT unless they’re being reconstructed. I’d say rebuild them with sidewalks and metered parking bays.

  6. Gregg says:

    I agree whole-heartedly that they should not have so much parking and that it shouldn’t be included in the rent.

    This placement has so many transportation alternatives (bike superhighway, LRT, bus, walking distance to major commercial center with a grocery store, liquor store, bookstore, and numerous restaurants) that it practically screams for people to not own a car.

  7. Rina says:

    Those of you that are complaining about the “free” parking in apartment complexes that build it into the rent are just like those complaining about their “free” street parking not being free anymore. Stop whining one way or the other and find a way to deal with it. Developers should not be required to include or not include. It is their decision to be able to choose how to do parking.
    If you are one that are complaining about the street parking turning into restricted or the lack of it, again, meet your neighbors who have garages/driveways. Maybe you can barter with them to have a space in their driveway. Or talk to the owner of a business in your area to see if there is a way you can “rent” a space from them in the larger lots.
    If you are in a place now that has “free” parking in your rent, but you don’t use the space because you don’t have a car, meet your neighbors and see if they could use the space. Have them give you money each month or barter for other things (sporting tickets, cleaning services, taxi service).
    Or don’t live where you are! You have a choice as to where you want to live; its a matter of what you choose to live with (or without). There is a consequence to every decision a person makes, if you don’t like that consequence then don’t make the decision. Take some accountability for your decisions people! Instead of having a “my way or the highway” mentality, find more creative ways of dealing with the situation. It’s called COMPROMISE!

    • anon says:

      And there is a consequence of every policy we create as a city. Policies that encourage vast swaths of street and surface parking have negative consequences — detracting from the pedestrian experience, encouraging pollution-creating driving, etc.

  8. The fact that The Dwell is so close to the future LRT station certainly makes the limiting of parking sound reasonable. The problem is however that LRT will only become a reality at least five years after The Dwell is built. In the meantime, there is no reason to believe that residents will have many fewer cars than they do now. The current Calhoun-Greenway, full of young professionals, has AT LEAST one vehicle per bedroom as can be seen by a count of vehicles on-site and parked on Chowen and 32d. All the lots and the streets are full.

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