Wednesday, June 06, 2012

City Planning proposes slashing Downtown Brooklyn parking minimums; could impact Atlantic Yards arena-goers and required residential parking

Map from DCP 
It's too soon to predict the impact on Atlantic Yards parking--both for arena-goers and future residents--but it's notable that the Department of City Planning now aims to slash mandatory parking in Downtown Brooklyn, an area adjacent to--and technically including slivers of--the Atlantic Yards site.

As Streetsblog reported 6/4/12, in DCP Proposal Will Cut Downtown Brooklyn Parking Minimums in Half:
Downtown Brooklyn’s mandatory parking minimums would be cut in half for new development and eliminated outright for affordable housing under a plan from the Department of City Planning. The change is significant — the first rollback of the costly and car-ownership inducing requirements under the Bloomberg administration — but doesn’t go far enough. Even by DCP’s own roundabout admission, the reduced parking minimums will still create an unnecessarily large supply of parking.
Currently, zoning for the city’s third-largest business district requires a 40 percent parking ratio for market-rate housing units (i.e. four parking spots for every 10 apartments) and 25 percent for affordable housing. The DCP plan would drop the market-rate ratio to 20 percent and eliminate the requirement for affordable housing. There are currently no parking minimums in the area for commercial buildings and no parking minimums on any development along a designated stretch of Atlantic Avenue.
Excess parking available

For example, the Avalon Fort Greene, which has 631 rental units, had to provide 252 new parking spaces, but only 88 of such spaces are filled.

Why so high?

So why is the proposed number even as high as it is? Streetsblog reported:
The answer was pure politics. “There was concern in the community that parking be continued to be provided for future residents,” responded [DCP's Lish] Whitson.
Local support and review

Here's coverage in Crain's, NYC to ease outdated parking rules in Brooklyn, and the press release, which contains support for the plan from Council Members Steve Levin and Letitia James. The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, which represents businesses in the area, also expressed support in a statement to Streetsblog.

(Here's a follow-up from Streetsblog expressing skepticism about the possibility for broader reform in the city.)

The proposed changes are referred for review by Brooklyn Community Board 2 and the Brooklyn Borough President for 60 days, after which they will come back for review to the City Planning Commission and then the City Council.

Note that, among the proposals, a new building to locate its required parking off-site in a new public garage, an effort to "ease development of sites over subway lines and on sites with high water-tables that otherwise would have been stymied by requirements for costly on-site parking."

AY impact?

Despite the state's pattern of overriding city zoning (including zoning of the slivers in the top map) in numerous ways to enable the Atlantic Yards project, the Empire State Development Corporation has not, as of yet, overridden the parking minimums assumed for the residential portion of the project.

The ESDC, which had previously mandated 1,100 on-site parking spaces, will apparently revise that, given plans to provide only 541 on-site spaces to arena-goers.

One explanation is that there is more off-site parking available than previously analyzed and, indeed, the new DCP report suggests an "excess parking supply."

Then again, the impact of the arena is yet unclear. Will the empty garages in Downtown Brooklyn take up the slack or will the lack of a residential permit parking induce some arena-goers to seek free on-street parking and clog residential streets, as those seeking a Neighborhood Protection Plan fear?

Presumably developer Forest City Ratner would like to not have to build parking, especially for residential towers--such as those to be built at the arena block or over a railyard deck--that cannot accommodate it on-site.

However, given the question mark regarding the arena itself and the delay in building the towers, it's not surprising that no policy regarding on-site residential parking has been announced.
DCP Downtown Brooklyn Parking

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