Let’s say you are a developer, doing an infill project in an area of considerable transit and walking potential. What possible reason to include parking as part of the project? It reduces the total amount of floor area that can be leased/rented out. It can also be very expensive to build, if the parking is in a garage.
So I put this question to a developer of a major infill project — and I was stunned by his answer. I had assumed the reasons had to do with the local zoning rules, and the difficulty in getting a variance. Or perhaps he felt parking was needed to make the project marketable.
In fact, he totally agreed that the parking was expensive and unnecessary. The building was in a desirable location, and did not require offstreet parking. And yes, there were zoning requirements, but a variance would have been possible.
Nope, the reason had to do with the bank. The people doing the financing had a standard calculation for the minimum amount of parking. Without parking, their view is that projects are not economical, and did not want to risk a default on the construction loan.
Now, this could have been a unique situation with just one particular bank. But researching other infill projects, there does seem to be a trend. For example, here was one creative solution to the problem:
Tenants who wanted a space on-site paid a premium for it—usually between $150 and $250 a month. The price varied to ensure that some on-site parking spaces were available when one of the building’s luxury units became vacant). The parking spaces in the structure blocks away, meanwhile, were leased primarily to nonresidents—office workers and other downtown commuters. The primary purpose of that parking structure was to secure a construction loan.
So to all you activists working to minimize parking requirements in the General Plan for your downtown area — you are probably wasting your time. It is the banks you need to worry about, not the local zoning.