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Multifamily Developers Try to Solve the Parking Challenge

Multifamily Developers Try to Solve the Parking Challenge National Real Estate Investor (08/08/17) Anderson, Bendix

Nationwide, multifamily housing developers are fighting for the right to build fewer parking spaces at new apartment buildings and complexes in downtown areas. National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) President Douglas Bibby remarks, "There is a growing awareness among housing officials that the required parking ratios are out of whack with reality." People use fewer parking spaces if they live in places with close-by stores, restaurants, and amenities and transit options for longer trips. Apartment developers, of course, need to make sure they don't skimp on the number of parking spaces they provide at their communities. After all, parking still ranked as the community amenity that residents desire most in the 2015 NMHC/Kingsley Resident Preferences Survey. But if they build too much parking, the empty spaces may be difficult to re-purpose for any other use.

In urban locales, parking often needs to be stacked in concrete parking or underground structures that may be expensive or impossible to demolish. To be sure, in a handful of places, the matter has already been settled. In the high-rise neighborhoods of New York City, for instance, many new apartment developments are now underway with few or no parking spaces. Officials in Oakland, Calif., meanwhile, have reduced their minimum parking requirements in the city's downtown, which is served by several mass transit options. Officials in San Francisco have rewritten their parking requirements, too. Instead of forcing apartment developers to build a minimum amount of parking spaces, the code prevents developers from building more than a certain number of spaces per rental unit. Finally, developers are creating transit options for their residents by welcoming car-sharing companies like Uber. To this end, they are creating designated Uber drop-off and pickup areas close to the lobbies of their apartment buildings where residents can wait for vehicles from car sharing services to arrive.