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 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.