Parking a Must for Housing, But How Much of It?

By Dennis Holt

BROOKLYN — This type of conversation is heard often in most cities worldwide: “It sure took you a long time to find a parking space.” “Yeah, the place is packed with cars.” There have been two stories this week about parking, but not about the travails of too many cars trying to find too few curb spots. The stories were about garages and lots and both relate directly to Downtown Brooklyn. The first story was the good news that the public and private sectors have joined hands to come up with the money to build Willoughby Square Park on Gold and Willoughby streets and Albee Square. Obviously a park there is much needed, but it’s what is planned underneath the park that led to the partnership — a 500-car garage.

That garage is critical because of the development that has taken place, is currently taking place and is planned within a few hundred yards of that site. The three hotels on Duffield Street, with a fourth to come, were built with no parking because of the planned garage. It is possible that not all of them would have been built had there been a need to also include a garage on site.

In addition to the hotels, the area is also home to the large City Point project, the first part of which — a new shopping center — is nearing completion. And also on the horizon is the Avalon Bay Willoughby, a large residential development now on the drawing board.

These developments will cost less because there is no need to dig deep underground to make room for underground parking lots. And the two private-sector partners in the Willoughby Square project are both coughing up about $2.5 million toward the expected $10 million cost. The nearby hotels are anticipated to come aboard as well, as has Borough President Marty Markowitz.

The other story, in Crain’s New York Business, is related to the Willoughby Square item. Too many developments are building too many parking spaces because of a 1951 law that demands that for every 10 rental units built outside Manhattan, four and sometimes more parking spaces must also be built.

The story in Crain’s starts out reporting on two completed residential projects in Brooklyn that don’t need all the underground parking that had to be built.

What has become obvious is that most of the people moving into new apartments in Downtown Brooklyn don’t own cars, and City Hall is getting ready to propose changes to that 1951 code.

The lead to the story is all about Brooklyn: “Avalon Fort Greene, a new 42-story luxury building near Downtown Brooklyn’s mass-transit hub, devotes two stories and 256 parking spaces [to parking].

“The building is well-occupied, but the garage is half-empty. The same is true down the street at 80 DeKalb Ave. [a Forest City project]. Nearly all of the building’s 365 apartments are filled, but only half of its 126 parking spaces are leased.”

Obviously, if the need to build parking spaces is sharply amended, that alone could lead to more housing developments. Stay tuned on this one.

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Filed under Brooklyn Broadside, Downtown Brooklyn, Editorial

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