Parking plays an extremely important role in creating successful, active, and economical developments. Parking helps to encourage pedestrian movement at the street level, as well as encouraging further growth in surrounding areas. Early consideration of parking during planning will identify the best opportunities for integrating parking, and create the potential for incorporating mixed-use.
One essential component of incorporating parking into a master plan is the utilization of shared-parking strategies to serve various users (i.e. transit commuters and office employees during the day, and residents and retail during evenings and weekends.) Shared parking helps to maximize the use of parking facilities, and reduces the amount of parking needed. Areas that utilize shared-parking also create further opportunities for green space, and a more effective use of land for further development.
Parking provides essential infrastructure to support an overall downtown, campus, or mixed-use development master plan. Structured parking can serve as a platform for the development of office towers and retail destinations. Adding office and retail space to the programming of a development creates opportunities for residents to work near where they live. Residential units with accessible, convenient parking and nearby offices will command higher rents per square foot than other residences without such amenities. Further, employees who work in the office space will enjoy convenient daytime parking, as well as other destinations such as retail and café establishments.
Mixed-use development with structured parking requires careful planning and a balanced mix of uses. Parking serves as the heart of the development, providing essential infrastructure for each use. As the lynchpin, parking can provide more than just space for cars, but rather serve as the foundation for residents, employees, and visitors to shop, eat, and work, all without using their cars. As a result, traffic congestion, the quest for a parking space, and ultimately, the need to construct additional parking can be reduced.