Master Plan Digest: Parking Solutions for a Mixed-Use Urban Site

Parking requirements are debated for every urban development. With a truly urban site in a dense, walkable context, the proposed redevelopment at Friendship Court strives to create pleasant and accessible connections across the site and to the surrounding city. This means creating new pedestrian and vehicular streets and tucking parking under buildings.

In general, meeting the goal of creating a feasible mixed-income community that supports families at every income level will be challenging. Parking requirements could make it even more difficult. The cost of a typical underground parking space can reach $30,000, meaning that every 10 parking spaces cost as much as three affordable or workforce housing units. Having fewer parking spaces translates into more affordable housing.

Working with the City will be crucial to rethinking parking requirements for the project. Many solutions appear in the SIA study, the RCLCO Housing Study and the most recent parking study commissioned by the City. Among solutions to be considered are parking reductions for provisions of affordable units; on-site permit parking on newly created streets; shared parking; reserved car-share spaces; and bike facilities.

A mixed-income development that preserves 150 Section 8 units poses a far greater challenge than providing parking for the 150 existing households—or for more conventional infill development on other sites in downtown. With significantly more cars to handle, it rules out surface parking as an option.

The development goals create a set of unique opportunities and challenges for accommodating—and paying for—parking facilities not present for any other comparably sized development in or near Charlottesville.

The Master Plan vision of 600 units would need:

  • 600 spaces located in “podium” parking located partially below-grade.
  • A minimum of 50-60 curbside spaces to serve visitors, retail, the Early Childhood Center and / or other similar services and users.
  • Additional spaces required for employee, retail, or other parking provided by shared use of available residential parking spaces.

Podium parking, located partially below-grade, should satisfy these conditions:

  • Build the parking structure deep enough to keep the floor level of ground-floor housing built on top of it three to four feet above the adjacent sidewalk level. At that height, a stoop and steps allow reasonable access to the unit.
  • Use landscaping and architectural elements to shield parking from the view of passersby; wherever possible, avoid creating blank walls.
  • Incorporate light and air-wells into courtyards located above parking; use landscaping and design to avoid opening views directly into the parking.
  • Minimize construction and operating costs by:
    > limiting parking to one level;
    > limiting the need for internal access ramps and, where possible, keeping ramp slopes below 5% so that ramps can accommodate parking; and
    > providing a single vehicle entry/exit for each “block” where possible

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What do you think? Continue the conversation with a comment below.

In our next Master Plan blog post, we’ll take a closer look at why we chose structured parking instead of another parking option.

Source: Friendship Court Redevelopment Master Plan, December 2016 – Master Plan Proposal (The Plan: Parking Solutions)

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