Provo Needs More Housing Without Parking

In my recent post on converting malls to housing I mentioned the need for more nice-but-affordable housing in Provo. I used loft style housing as my example because that’s popular right now, but really Provo just needs better housing of any kind that is appealing and not geared to either established families or students.

And one really great way to make housing affordable is to cut parking.

As is the case in many cities, it’s standard in Provo to include parking in new development. I recently attended a meeeting about a proposed development in the Joaquin Neighborhood — one of the more walkable places in Utah — that proposed two parking spaces per unit. It’s insanity because parking induces demand for parking.

But even most historic housing in Provo has parking; though there are really old homes here and there that lack garages, they’re the exceptions rather than the rules. The problem, then, is that even people who want to ditch their cars are forced to pay higher housing costs that include parking.

But up in Salt Lake City there are some buildings that don’t include parking. Take this listing, for example:

a condo w/out parking

Screen shot 2013-01-06 at 10.37.06 PMThe link includes additional pictures of this apartment, but really its quite an impressive place. And it has no parking. The result is that the $182,000 price tag buys more home for someone willing to take advantage of the walkable surroundings.

When I asked what people with cars do, I was told that “there’s plenty of parking on the street or you can buy a pass for a city lot.”

Here’s another parking-free listing for a very cheap but very cool place not far from the Gateway and Pioneer Park:

Screen shot 2013-01-16 at 7.37.00 PM

Note the extremely low price of this condo. There are some financing issues that contribute to that price, but comparably sized apartments with parking in downtown Salt Lake City go for $40,000-$100,000 more.

The point is that a city with aspirations of greatness and walkability needs housing like this. It doesn’t destroy the city, create nightmarish congestion, or generally ruin the world. Indeed it makes the city more diverse and affordable for the professionals and small families who choose these places. In many cases, these places also end up being some of the coolest, most valuable spots in the city.

And as I’ve mentioned before, there’s nothing like this in Provo.

Provo isn’t ready to eliminate all parking and that isn’t a realistic possibility anyway. But it is ready for some housing for people who choose not to drive, or who would rather not have their parking costs rolled into their housing costs. That type of housing is a reality in many other cities and given Provo’s age it’s surprising there isn’t more of it already. But until that changes, Provo will continue to be at a disadvantage in the competition for talent and growth.

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1 Comment

Filed under driving, parking

One response to “Provo Needs More Housing Without Parking

  1. Joanna

    I agree completely.

    I think Provo city planners should consider making part of Center Street pedestrian only or at least remove a lot of the existing parking to make it a more attractive destination. In all my travels, I have found that pedestrian only streets are usually the most vibrant. Young people increasingly want to live and work in vibrant downtown areas.

    I think for a downtown to be successful today, you need to have business, shopping, dining and entertainment. It has some business (NuSkin, Convention Ctr), some dining, but it lacks decent shopping and entertainment. I think Provo should give a tax incentive to a movie complex to locate downtown (as close to Center and University as possible), because movie goers may also decide to eat and shop – that’s why they’re in the malls. It will help bring retail back. And, Provo should stop saying “historic downtown”. It’s not very historic looking with so many historic buildings torn down. And for many people, a historic downtown means a downtown full of antique stores.

    City leaders worry too much about having enough parking. If somewhere is a destination, people will walk a few blocks or so or take public transit if it’s convenient. People often walk great distances when they park at the mall!

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