Converting Parking Lots to Mixed Use Development

The growing economy is pushing cities to re-think available land for development. A brief report on the transition from kiss & ride to mixed use

What Happened?
Calgary is planning to remove 1,250 park-and-ride spots at the Anderson light rail station to make room for a mixed-use development project. Calgary is another example of suburban settings taking steps to be more walker-friendly to attract young professionals, baby boomers and businesses.

The Goal
The Calgary city council has reported a new growth strategy for the city that focuses on investment in infrastructure and amenities around transit stations. Public transportation hubs, such as rail stations, should be surrounded by resources for travelers and residents who are opting out of driving, CityLab reported.

This focus on walkability is a national debate after recent studies suggest Millennials, Baby Boomer and companies are interested in settling in urbanized settings that are less car-centric and more walker-friendly.

The Calgary city council views park-and-rides as counterintuitive to growth goals. The city wants to generate economic growth and maintain a sustainable public transit system to support this growth. Park-and-rides may, however, increase vehicle miles traveled which discourages the use of public transit, not encourage it.

To ensure that the removal of park-and-rides is a step toward city growth, Calgary must monitor public transit rider retention after the spots have been removed and mixed use development is completed. If the number of passengers remains the same or increases then the city will gain from the experiment and public transit may prove sustainable.

Mixed-Use Spending Up
The construction of mixed-use infrastructure is on the rise across the country, as walkability scores continue to be a priority for many locales. In Nashville, Tennessee, $1 billion has been allocated toward the development of mixed-use buildings over the next 20 years.

The project will focus on the Stephens Valley community and include construction of:

  • 1,400 custom homes
  • restaurants
  • offices
  • 100-room boutique hotel

The entire project will be developed on 850 acres currently unused in the region.

Similarly, downtown Glendale has plans for a $30 million mixed-use project featuring:

  • 5,000 square feet of restaurant space
  • 9 live-work units
  • 219 apartments

The goal of the project is to transform the commercial area into a thriving city center with residential units, entertainment and public transit access. The city approved changes to its zoning rules several years ago to encourage development in the downtown area. This will allow the mixed-use buildings to be tall and dense with amenities.

In addition, the Port Authority of Kansas City recently came to an agreement to lease land on the Kansas City riverfront, which will be developed into a mixed-use urban village. The construction will include:

  • 398 luxury apartments
  • 400 parking spaces
  • 12,000 square feet of retail
  • Bicycle bar
  • Fitness amenities
  • Recreational resources

The agreement involves a public-partnership between the Port Authority and a private developer. The urbanization of the Berkley Riverfront Park aims to offer residents more walker-friendly options while spurring economic growth in the long term.

Mixed-Use Projects Increase Options
EfficientGov has reported on several initiatives to attract new demographics and businesses to a region with more urban amenities and access to public transit.

About the author


Barry Greenfield

Barry Greenfield is the founder of