Saturday, April 30, 2011

Transit-oriented development? A developer (not Forest City Ratner) says parking minimums in dense districts near transit are unwise

Streetsblog has a very interesting interview with Alan Bell, co-founder of the Hudson Companies, about parking minimums (an issue under discussion in the PlaNYC revision):
Bell identified Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue as another design casualty of parking minimums, pointing to buildings like Boymelgreen Developers’ much-maligned Crest and Novo apartment buildings. The large buildings there were required to include parking, but subway lines under the street made putting it underground cost prohibitive. “[Boymelgreen] made the calculation that he’d rather sacrifice having retail on the ground floor in exchange for not putting the parking below ground, it was so expensive,” said Bell. The result is a series of buildings that are utterly indifferent to pedestrian life, presenting blank walls and parking to the sidewalk.

One solution Bell proposed is revising the zoning code so that parking minimums are eliminated in medium- or high-density districts near transit. Said Bell, “Historically, there’s no question, if I’m building near a subway stop, I’m going to attract a lot of people who don’t want a car or need a car. That’s proven in the marketplace.”

The Atlantic Yards angle

So why would Atlantic Yards have 2570 spaces intended for the project's residential component and an additional 1100 spaces for arenagoers?

(Those spaces are ultimately supposed to go underground, but the initial arena parking, as well as some of the residential parking, would remain indefinitely on surface lots.)

Because (take your pick):
  • high rollers going to arena suites want to drive
  • residents of luxury units want to drive too
  • Forest City Ratner didn't want to muck around with city policy
  • the city wasn't ready to change its policy
  • the state wasn't ready to override this aspect of city policy (unlike others)
  • nobody really thought through the notion of "transit-oriented development"

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