A new proposal in real estate development referred to as 9×18 encourages the trade of parking spot requirements for affordable housing funding. The deal capitalizes on the requirement on developers in some parts of New York City to provide parking for new apartments. To mitigate this financial burden, developers can choose to reduce their parking requirements by paying a fund to a mixed used housing fund. The plan makes a potentially important stride in increasing affordable housing citywide.

Many argue that the developer’s parking requirements are uniformly disadvantageous. The number of parking spaces a developer is required to build depend on their project’s unit number, size, affordability, and proximity to public transit. The developers don’t like this requirement because it’s expensive- about $50,000 per lot. Many tenants also see the requirement as a burden, because it increases their housing costs. The government doesn’t like it because it encourages street traffic, which is counterintuitive to their pedestrian safety initiative. However, the government will most likely not vote to abolish the requirement, because of the likely backlash from car-owning constituents.[1] Car owners only account for 19% of New York residents, while the city provides an average of 43 parking spots per 100 units built.[2] The parking requirement is therefore economically inefficient from most obvious angles.

The 9×18 plan poses an economically and socially viable solution to a burdensome parking requirement. With this plan, developers would have the option to pay a given amount of money to reduce their parking requirements. This money would go towards the construction of mixed-use parking on housing authority lots, covered garages with stores at street level, and recreational areas for children. The plan condenses neighborhood parking and allows for more development on the space. Such development could include day care and senior facilities, supermarkets, and office spaces, all of which would be incorporated with mixed income housing.  In short, this plan would provide both additional mixed housing units and currently lacking community services for areas of mixed income housing that have the space. It encourages a mix of housing in lively neighborhoods with accessible transit and public services, a change of pace from affordable housing’s traditionally blighted neighborhoods.[3]

9×18 isn’t the only solution to the problem of parking related zoning requirements. One initiative called Park in Your Neighborhood allows for consolidated parking within reasonable distance to tenants. I propose that within this plan, there is room for advancements in affordable housing as well. For example, these condensed lots could be in traditionally poor neighborhoods that are already surrounded by widely vacant lots. In exchange for parking spaces, the developer would provide resources for rehabilitation in these neighborhoods.[4]

Regardless of the details of a particular project, when incorporating affordable housing into parking requirements is it imperative to maximize key players.  Bringing parking into the affordable housing world introduces new players including private developers, residents, government officials, social groups, and the New York City Housing Authority. The more stakeholders involved in affordable housing, the more traction initiatives have to make a positive change and neighborhood impact.

 

Questions? Thoughts? Please comment below!

 

 



[1] Kimmelman, Michael. “Trading Parking Lots for Affordable Housing.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 14 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Sept. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/15/arts/design/9-x-18-plan-ties-development-rules-to-public-benefits.html>.

[2] “Project 9×18 seeks to reform NYC surface parking • MyParkingPermit

Blog.” MyParkingPermit Blog. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Sept. 2014

<http://www.myparkingpermit.com/blog/project-9×18-to-reform-nyc-surface-parking/>.

[3] See also 1

[4] See also 2