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Thread: Side & Rear Parking

  1. #1

    Side & Rear Parking

    We have recently implemented design standards that reduce the front setback from 50' to 20' and require all parking to be to the side and rear of the building for new commercial developments. Sites with outparcels would be allowed to have front parking but the outparcels would have to comply with the no front parking requirements. The whole idea is create an “old town center” feel with pedestrian friendly and architecturally enhanced developments. Developers have stated that they will not be able to sell or lease without front parking but it defeats our entire concept to allow this.

    Does anyone know of any success/failures in this regard?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Habanero's avatar
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    Dec 2001
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    Texas
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    Developers Lie-

    We had a concept like that come through, with all front parking, and it failed because the stores were pushed back and blocked by the trees that shaded the pedestrian areas.
    When Jesus said "love your enemies", he probably didn't mean kill them.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    There are far too many examples of it being accepted for it not to work. It is a myth that parking is needed in front of the building, though most of the chains will tell you they have top have it. In reality, if you keep saying "no" they will eventually concede. The "locals" are more problematic - they don't know any better and their tenants (chains, franchises, etc.) put pressure on them - "do it or we won't come into your development." I only once saw a developer who understood. He came to the plan board with an awful plan for a 20,000 square foot box and said "This is what they want me to show you. Now tell me what you want to see." It turned out to be a very good development - one row of parking in front and the remainder to the side, well-landscaped, sidewalks from the street to the entrance, bike racks, and a good design.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    It can work if your community from the elected officials on down are serious. If the development community was not made part of the planning process that developed the concept, you have a tough time ahead of you.

  5. #5

    Thanks for the input & Option that I am considering

    We went to great lengths to include the private sector during our initial phases to implement the change but received very little to no input. Most of the developers are from the Atlanta area and heading our way because the growth is now pushing out.

    My Mayor and Council fully endorse the concept but also want to be reasonable. One of my suggested solutions to the problem is that the developer must demonstrate a hardship (inability of developer to sign a tenant for a period of time) at which time a 4' masonry wall that compliments the facade of the building must be constructed on the perimeter of the front property line which would be complimented with a sidewalk and 10' landscape berm along the ROW. Front parking would only then be allowed in front the parking wall.

    We will hold several public hearing to make the change but would appreciate any input before recommending the change.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    In our community, sidewalks are not an option - they must be installed along the right of way and to the entrance to the building. It does not matter if it is a Taco Bell or a Wal-Mart. Similarly, we require a landscaped buffer yard between the sidewalk (at the edge of the right of way) and the parking lot. Although I argued for a reduced building setback if there is no parking in front (as an incentive) this was not incorporated into the ordinance. On the smaller developments (fast food, etc.) there is no reason to have parking in front. Larger boxes, you have to concede, generally need some, but not all. My suggestion is to use a series of incentives and disincentives to encourage the best design. Had I written the code I might consider:
    1) no parking in the front yard of buildings less than 7500 square feet, minimal setback requirements
    2) one lane of parking in front of buildings 7500 to 20000 square feet, setbacks and landscaping may be reduced if there is no parking in front
    3) no more than half of the parking required by ordinance allowed in front of buildings over 20000 square feet, extensive landscaping requirements both in the landscape buffer yard and in the parking lot, maybe even play with the signage, encourage outlots on the frontage (between the right of way and the parking lot.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian dbarch's avatar
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    Apr 2002
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    Atlanta, GA
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    Check with the folks at the City of Atlanta Planning Department. Several of the city's new zoning classifications, such as "Neighborhood Commercial" have strict limits or outright bans on front parking. Some of these have been in place for a while and probably have a history.
    The new Midtown SPI also strongly discourages or bans front parking. There is a ton of new development in Midtown Atlanta, including residential, retail and office which complies with these limits. The city or Midtown Alliance could share success (and perhaps negative) stories with you.
    Good luck!

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