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Parking is Required to Diet [Part 3 of 3]

Sep 21, 2009

by JP Thornton, VIA’s Director of Practice and Director of Mixed-Use + Major Projects

Not building any/or Minimal
Some forms of development can suit no additional parking provision at all.

At the Hub, East Broadway Commercial station in Vancouver an arrangement was brokered in a community that was fixated on two problems. The first being a lack of parking and concern about increased parking demand to be caused by adding a second skytrain station. The second being the needed increasing commercial activity around the station to drive out the drug dealing operations that had overrun the area.

Two options were discussed a) commercial development without any parking or b) some parking but limited development; they chose development and committed to back off the parking issue. The no parking option was selected by the community.

The City was then convinced to allow a rezoning for 20,000sqft with zero parking (a relaxation of 30 odd stalls) which was the only way the economics would allow a project to be developed.

Interestingly, the City did however also allow an option of 39,000 sqft if the full parking was provided ie 58 stalls.

What we see today is the successful 20,000 sq ft that was built with no parking.

Some forms of development would never happen where it happens if the required amount of parking was to be provided. For example, when BC Places, 60,000 seat stadium was approved there were many City blocks empty around it.

In getting approval for Concord Pacific for its development masterplan, agreement was reached on allocating 2,000 stalls in the development to be designated as available for stadium events.

Concord also paid in the region of $8m that was to be put to car alternatives which went towards creating the earliest bikeways.

Building bigger and better than required
This final point may be surprising but what if we think about the future. If the points noted above do in fact reduce the amount of parking required (and there is no reason to believe that they wont) what do we do then with all of that expensive parking that we have previously provided? Particularly the “out of site, out of mind” underground parking which we are so fond of.

We need to think now about reuse. We already reuse other building forms. What if that parking could be converted to an alternative use once its parking days are over.

If we were to incorporate better, at or above grade parking into new and future development. Parking structures which are designed to provide for greater floor to ceiling heights, larger stall sizes, these then could be converted into work live units or retail, say at a later date.

Building above ground would allow for natural daylight and direct access, building the stalls wider would allow for the partitions to be erected.
Reduction in the stall count but increase in the quality is the only way that this can be achieved.

The next task is to look at the impact of pay parking on development sites outside the city centre. Particularly the redevelopment of strip malls. Major retailers are starting to understand that the acceptance of parking is a cost of doing commerce/producing amenity rather than a right. Eco density redevelopment takes surface stalls and either requires above grade ones at more than double the cost or underground parking at more than triple.

Obviously this cost can be reduced with the rationale that the more walk able the environment created, then the more the likelihood that commercial and social amenity is within walking distance and thereby the less cars (and the need for spaces) will be needed.

One Comment

  1. Parkitecture. Redefined.