Sacrificing Parking for Housing

low income housing tax credit

Housing strategy will turn parking spaces into neighborhood amenities to support mixed housing developments. Read how the city plans to bypass zoning regulations

What Happened?
A new housing strategy aims to turn parking spaces into neighborhood amenities to support mixed housing developments. The plan would bypass zoning regulations calling for a certain amount of parking spaces for each new housing project constructed.

Goal
Three architects from the Institute for Public Architecture came up with the 9 x 18 proposal in response to the New York City Mayor’s call for 200,000 subsidized housing units to be built in the next 10 years. The strategy identifies more ambitious uses for the land typically assigned to parking spaces that would help new or renovated housing developments thrive in the long term.

According to The New York Times, the 9 x 18 plan challenges an NYC zoning mandate requiring a specific number of parking spots for housing projects. The seemingly outdated mandate does not take into account what other amenities new housing will require to succeed. The 9 x 18 strategy, on the other hand, would change the requirement so the number of parking spaces required is based on:

  • Size of apartments
  • Affordability of housing
  • Proximity to mass transit

A study by the Furman Center at NYU found required parking spots can total $50,000 each and increase housing costs for residents. If the parking spots were converted into more useful amenities such as supermarkets or libraries, it may attract consumers from other neighborhoods and support housing authority tenants. If the strategy was implemented citywide, an additional 20.3 million square feet would be freed up for new developments, The New York Times reported.

Atlanta’s Plan
Similar to the 9 x 18 plan, the transit authority for metro Atlanta is developing underused parking lots into mixed-use commercial and residential developments. Both strategies underscore the benefits of encouraging residents to take advantage of adjacent public transit while supporting economic growth with investment neighborhood amenities.

CityLab reported the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority is purchasing the land used for parking spaces and proactively transforming the land around central public transit hubs. Because MARTA does not receive money from the state but is funded through sales taxes, the authority wanted to increase revenue through boosted ridership and tenant rents.

The transit authority will buy up underused parking spaces and lease the land for 99 years to developers interested in constructing mixed-use buildings. The funds generated from the lease revenue can be reinvested into improving MARTA operations and services to the public. The mixed-use developments will include a public park or plaza, and 20 percent of new housing will be affordable, CityLab reported.

It doesn’t stop there: MARTA is also looking to transform the space on top of rail stations to make it easier for residents to access public transit as well as enjoy additional amenities around public transit. The transit authority plans to develop the air rights atop rail stations in the city’s business districts to build mixed-use buildings, much like its parking lot initiative. These strategies are part of the authority’s larger transit-oriented development strategy that aims to make Atlanta residents less car-dependent and use public transit more efficiently.

Value of Parking Spaces
EfficientGov has reported on other similar projects converting parking spaces into mixed-use developments, or selling the land to fund other public projects.

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