Raleigh Looks at Easing Developers' Parking Requirements
Posted December 13, 2006 4:19 p.m. EST
Updated December 13, 2006 6:35 p.m. EST
In downtown Raleigh, developer Greg Hatem started a restoration project before a new parking rule went into effect. If he were to start it today, he says, he wouldn't have been able to do it.
"If you can't provide the parking, you can't do the project—and that's counterintuitive right now," says Hatem.
In downtown, projects that will have more than 10,000 square feet of floor space are required to provide a parking space for every residential unit as well as spaces for office and retail uses.
The problem with the rule, some say, is that it's hard to create parking in cramped parts of town—and it is not always necessary.
Hatem says his project would have required hundreds of parking spots when an adjoining parking garage is rarely full.
"We would need 400 spaces to renovate this old building that's been here for hundreds of years. It's impossible," he says.
A different developer hoped to build a restaurant on a lot in Glenwood South months ago, but he's spent nearly a year trying to lease spots from nearby businesses to meet his parking requirement.
A new proposal would exempt parking requirements downtown and ease them in areas like Glenwood South. Raleigh planners support changing the rules so small projects can move forward.
"I talk about them as connective tissue. They link up the new convention center or the new RBC building to the museums. They provide that street experience that is really what brings people back to downtown," says Dan Douglas, director of the Raleigh Urban Design Center.
Planners don't think the changes would impact parking because, they say, there are thousands of off-street spots that aren't used downtown and most business is from pedestrian traffic.
In Glenwood South, they say, most people park once and visit several establishments, so they do not create any additional parking demand when they become a “new” customer.
Once city staff crafts a new regulation, the public will have a chance to provide input. The ultimate decision on changes will be made by the Raleigh City Council.