Apartments filling their available parking spots

No matter how many spaces they offer, garages are well used 

Track 29, 29th and Bryant
About 99% of the roughly 240 parking spaces at the Track 29 apartments at 29th and Bryant are in use today. Photo by Andrew Hazzard

In July, the Minneapolis Planning Commission approved a 146-unit apartment building with 92 parking spaces at 26th & Blaisdell.

These types of developments with low parking-to-unit ratios have become commonplace since the city changed its minimum parking requirements in 2015. Before, each new building had to provide at least one spot. Now projects near high-frequency transit corridors with fewer than 50 units have zero parking requirements and buildings larger than 50 units need to include one spot for every two units.

Currently, Minneapolis does not keep data on parking utilization rate at apartment buildings, according to planning manager Jason Wittenberg, who said the city would like to better understand how residential parking spaces are being used.

But as the city plans for a future with fewer cars and more density, newer apartment buildings constructed in Southwest before and after the requirements report their parking spaces are still in high demand. Regardless of the amount of parking, newer developments are confident they are offering attractive living situations to residents.

Bryan Walters, the co-founder of Yellow Tree Development, said his firm is very comfortable constructing new residential buildings with fewer spots than units.

“We put the lowest amount of parking in we possibly can,” Walters said.

Yellow Tree has multiple ongoing projects in Southwest, including two under construction on Nicollet Avenue in Steven’s Square and one at 29th & Bryant. It’s also the firm behind the newly approved building at 26th & Blaisdell, which will have more than 100 bike parking stalls, and the 67-unit building at 28th & Garfield, which will have 40 parking stalls and 40 bike parking spots.

The Whit apartments at 22nd & Blaisdell, built in 2017 by Yellow Tree before being sold, has 47 parking spaces for 74 units and frequently has a waiting list for spots, according to property manager Taylor Luhmann.

“Parking is a hot commodity in our building,” she said.

In the years before the minimum parking requirements for residential development were implemented in 2015, several large apartment buildings were approved along the Midtown Greenway with more parking spots than units. Today, many of those buildings report their parking stock is still in high demand.

Lime Apartments at 29th & Lyndale opened in 2014 along the Midtown Greenway with 171 units and 205 parking stalls. Today, 188 of those parking spaces are being used by residents, according to property manager Nick Seawell.

At Track 29 apartments at 29th & Bryant, 97% of the 198 units are currently full and about 95% of the parking spots are used, according to Lincoln Property Company, which manages the building. Track 29 has a 1.2 parking spot-to-unit ratio, giving it about 238 parking spaces. About 90% of residents are using parking spots, according to property management.

The Be @ Calhoun Greenway building at 31st & Chowen has 185 apartments and 199 underground parking spots, 192 of which are in use, according to property manager Jason Phad. That building also shares an additional 80-space surface lot with the Calhoun Greenway buildings, which is mostly full, he said.

The Calhoun Greenway built a new 151-space parking garage last year for its 740 units to complement the 580 spots previously offered. Currently 91 of the 151 new spaces have been rented. Elan Uptown at 28th & Emerson has 399 residential garage spaces for 387 units, with each unit guaranteed one spot, according to leasing agent Brandon Winter. Very few residents opt not to use their spot, he said, though specific numbers were not available.

Yellow Tree Development

Looser requirements, more housing 

From the city’s perspective, decreasing parking requirements for new development can help further its goals of increasing affordability, improving design and reducing driving and carbon emissions.

“All things held equal, a development that has spent less to build parking will be more affordable than a development that built one or two floors of underground parking,” Wittenberg said.

Each enclosed parking space can cost up to $30,000 to build and that cost is often passed along to the consumer, he said.

The 2015 parking requirement changes also “seem to have made small-scale development a little more feasible,” he said. Since then, the city has a median parking space-to-unit ratio of .82 in all new multi-family buildings. That median ratio drops to .42 parking spaces per unit in buildings with fewer than 50 units.

Such developments are starting to be more common in Southwest. In June, a 12-unit project dubbed Amp House was approved at 33rd & Garfield with no parking stalls. A 10-unit building with two parking spots is being pitched at 28th & Fremont.

Yellow Tree is currently leasing up its newly finished building in a block off Central Avenue in Northeast, JAX Apartments. The building has 65 units and 33 parking stalls. Walters said the building is about 65% leased right now and the demand for parking is lining up well with what they’re offering. He said having buildings near consistent transit lines and bike infrastructure is critical for low-parking projects.

“It’s all area dependent,” Walters said.

There are more ways to get around Minneapolis today than there were a decade ago, Wittenberg said. Residents tend to adjust to circumstances, he said, pointing to the popularity of housing from the streetcar era with few parking stalls.

“People deal with it,” he said.