A few months ago we sang the praises of Atlanta’s new parking-related zoning updates, and hinted at a follow-up post. Our feelings on parking requirements aren’t a big secret: we want them gone. But we know that in a city like Atlanta, parking is an important part of most projects. We also know that parking requirements rarely correlate to how much parking a project truly needs to be successful.
Over the last decade (a majority in the last 4 years), we have worked on countless projects where the amount of zoning-required-parking didn’t match up with the proposed uses. In that time, we have pursued over 20 parking variances. To date, we have saved 2,946 unnecessary parking spaces from afflicting our city. Yes, you read that right. Nearly 3,000 parking spaces beyond what these projects needed were required by our zoning code. Note that 2,646 of these spaces were to be located ITB (inside the Beltline – or, in our most walkable, transit-rich core).
Let’s put that number in context. If the average parking space takes up 300 square feet of space, then we have saved 883,800 square feet of asphalt from covering Atlanta. That is over 20 acres! Or, roughly the size of the Historic Fourth Ward Park. Let’s be conservative and say that an average parking space costs $10,000. Using this metric, we have saved our clients nearly $30 million. It should be noted that these assumptions are for surface parking spaces (parking decks costs between $25,000 – $50,000 per space). Our projects rarely involve decks, because parking decks are prohibitively expensive for projects that want to maintain even moderately affordable rents. And anyway, these projects have thrived without all of that unnecessary, expensive parking.
So, what do 2,946 parking spaces look like on the ground? It looks like a waste of precious land and resources, as shown in the above diagram.
We are grateful for the modest strides made in reforming our parking requirements in Atlanta, and for the leadership that pushed these issues. But until minimum parking requirements are eliminated completely, we will see you at the BZA.