The city of Cincinnati is set to ban new parking lots downtown

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Cincinnati may be the latest city to ban new parking lots downtown, Part of the national movement To optimize existing land use and reduce carbon emissions.

The Cincinnati City Council will vote this week to amend the text of the city’s zoning code to block new parcels of land throughout downtown and parts of the East End, Mount Adams, Mount Auburn, Pendleton, Over-the-Rhine and West End areas, an area known as the Downtown Zoning District.

The vote is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at City Hall. Online viewers can watch the live broadcast on Citable.

Why ban new parking lots in and around the city centre?

The city’s Planning Department estimates that 13% of the entire area is covered by 150 lots. This does not include garages.

Councilman Mark Jeffries introduced the idea to ban new parking lots in 2022, citing surface lots as dead spaces that contribute to urban heat in the summer, poor air quality and increased stormwater runoff.

Planners decided that banning new lots would not only promote new development on existing available lots, but would also increase walkability and slow downtown traffic, according to a city zoning study.

In early December, the city’s Planning Commission voted to recommend a zoning change to prohibit new parking.

Within the downtown development zone, new parking is already blocked in the gray color shown here.  An amendment to the zoning law would also prohibit new parcels of land outside this area.

Within the downtown development zone, new parking is already blocked in the gray color shown here. An amendment to the zoning law would also prohibit new parcels of land outside this area.

New lots have already been blocked in more than half of downtown Cincinnati, an area called the W subzone (see chart above). This would expand the exclusion zone.

There’s a caveat, though: Temporary lots may be approved. To make the project financially viable at its inception, the developer will be able to request a two-year construction plot with the possibility of a five-year extension.

Developers will have to adhere to stricter design guidelines to build these new pieces as well. Instead of pouring asphalt or concrete, heat-reflecting materials or permeable flooring should be used. Any of these new lots would require electric charging stations as well as trees or other landscaped areas between parking spaces.

Don’t we need more parking?

A view of the parking lot at 250 W. Fifth Street in Cincinnati on Thursday, January 25, 2024.

A view of the parking lot at 250 W. Fifth Street in Cincinnati on Thursday, January 25, 2024.

Downtown Cincinnati is already alone It includes 40,000 parking spaces. This does not include the 1,980 spaces that make up on-street parking, of which only 47% were used from summer 2022 to summer 2023, according to the city.

While parking in the urban core is a pressing issue for Enquirer readers, only 81% of off-street parking (yards and lots) was used from spring 2022 to spring 2023, according to a parking report from the Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC). .

For many people, including downtown residents and workers, banning new lots is an important step in creating a more vibrant city. The city’s Planning Department received 178 letters of support.

Groups such as the Downtown Residents Council and 3CDC also supported the plan during public meetings, while opponents said the changes could deter future development or hurt businesses.

Such a dispute has erupted at the former Greyhound station, where developer Chavez Properties wants to turn the abandoned station on the edge of downtown into a parking lot. (Since September 2022, the property has been part of Temporary Development Control District No. 88, where A temporary ban has been imposed on new pieces.) Planning Committee He agreed to Chavez’s plan.

A parking lot at Sycamore Street and East Seventh Street in Cincinnati on Thursday, January 25, 2024.

A parking lot at Sycamore Street and East Seventh Street in Cincinnati on Thursday, January 25, 2024.

What other cities have banned new lots?

Cities across the United States are experimenting with reducing parking minimums for new construction and implementing new design standards for plazas. Nearby in Cincinnati, Cleveland prohibits new lots in one area through its zoning code, while Lexington, Columbus, Toledo and Louisville encourage heavy landscaping, fencing, special lighting or public art around lots.

One country took another step forward: last January, California has imposed a statewide ban Which prevents local governments from creating lots next to new developments near transit stations.

Other cities like Nashville It also eliminated parking minimums to encourage the development of affordable housing, rehabilitate existing buildings and solve the nationwide housing shortage. Parking rules pose barriers to all of this because car ownership drops by as much as 40 percent as residential density doubles in cities, according to a Cincinnati zoning study.

So Cincinnati’s new rule would not only promote development in the urban core, but would prevent building owners from tearing down existing buildings and creating parking lots — something that has happened 10 times since 1998, according to Planning Department research. In contrast, 13 new buildings were erected on top of the previous ones, including Hard Rock Cincinnati, Baycor Stadium, and 1010 on the Rhine, which includes apartments, a parking garage and downtown’s only grocery store, Kroger.

Don’t worry, parking will make up for the loss of many new spots

The garage at 521 Race St. was constructed.  As part of the 8451 development project in 2015.

The garage at 521 Race St. was constructed. As part of the 8451 development project in 2015.

For those who may complain that there aren’t enough parking spaces in downtown Cincinnati — or that parking is difficult — a large number of garages have been built in the past decade to help solve the area’s parking problem. And more on the way:

  • In 2015, the 84.51 Building Competition brought with it 1,110 5th place finishes and a race garage.

  • A 584-space above-ground garage was built within the Fourth and Reese apartment building spanning a block in the heart of downtown in 2020.

  • Conversions from office to apartment such as terraced and building project New conference hotel It will also add new or rehabilitated parking spaces downtown.

A view of the Findlay Market Garage in the Over-the-Rhine area on Thursday, January 25, 2024.

A view of the Findlay Market Garage in the Over-the-Rhine area on Thursday, January 25, 2024.

New garages outside the downtown zoning district also help alleviate parking problems in the urban core:

  • Last month, the county completed construction of a $31 million above-ground multi-use garage near Findlay Market with 515 spaces.

  • FC Cincinnati’s $300 million multi-use entertainment district is expected to add up to 500 venues adjacent to TQL Stadium by 2026.

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This article originally appeared on the Cincinnati Enquirer website: Does Cincinnati ban new parking lots?

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