When a building owner or developer assesses the feasibility of building out a property, the limiting factor might not be construction cost, but the availability of parking. In many retail, office, multi-family residential, or mixed-use commercial zones parking is so impacted that the developer cannot create a project that maximizes the use of the site.
What possible solutions are available to make development feasible while still addressing parking and transportation issues?
One idea that is already in use in Europe is called “stacked parking”. With stacked parking the tenant moves the car into the garage opening and leaves it. Then an automated system stacks the cars in the most efficient use of space without driveways between rows of cars. Here is a link to a short animated video of the concept:
Admittedly, stacked parking takes some getting used to on a purely emotional level. Where did my car go? Is it OK? How quickly can I retrieve it? What if the automated machine breaks down? It just doesn’t feel the same as when you can walk up to your car in its own garage or assigned parking space. It is, however, a viable alternative when the available parking area is constricted.
Another possibility is car-sharing. Since many of us consider our cars to be an extension of our own personalities, we may not be comfortable with letting go of our single occupancy vehicle. But what if a certain number of cars were on-hand for us to use for occasional errands or trips beyond walking distance? Could we then switch to using public transit for our daily commute and give up our one car per person lifestyle?
Many communities have city-owned or privately-owned parking garages and parking lots that allow visitors to park, but not as close to their destination as they would like. They must also usually pay a fee to park in the garage or lot. This is one of those things that big city dwellers are accustomed to, but suburban residents have not had to deal with until now. We can’t just pull up and park conveniently adjacent to the store, office, or service provider as we may have done in the past. Employees may have to park well outside the core business district to get to their jobs. Oh well, we all need the exercise, right?
So, we need to start thinking about weaning ourselves off of our car dependency and begin looking at the bigger picture. What do we want our communities to look like in the future? Can we adapt to having our cars less accessible? Are we willing to sacrifice hop-in-the-car convenience for the greater good of having our residences and workplaces in prime locations, instead of parking lots?
the Kastrop Group, Inc. Architects