Is Subsidizing Structured Parking Worth It?

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Some developers have cited the high cost of providing structured parking as part of their justification when seeking tax incentives. Perhaps we’re not subsidizing profits, rather we’re subsidizing structured parking.

When presenting the Everly (a tax abated apartment building with 211 structured parking spaces), the Clayco representative said they’d charge residents $50 per month for a parking space, but each space actually costs $150 per month. The market wouldn’t bear the actual cost of car storage. So is the cost borne by the owner in less profit, by tenants in higher lease rates whether they have a car or not, or by the public in the form of a tax subsidy?

According to Carl Walker, a parking consultant, the median cost of a structured parking space in St. Louis is $19,417. An underground parking spot costs more. The deeper they are the more they cost. One level down costs 15% more, two levels 45% more. For example 32 N Euclid, which received a $4.5M TIF has 104 subterranean spaces on two levels. $19,417 x ( 1.15 x 52 + 1.45 x 52) = $2.6M. On top of the construction cost one should add the operation and maintenance costs. See a Victoria Tranport Policy Institute Analysis of parking costs.

Let’s assume a project wouldn’t happen but for the parking. Structured parking usually doesn’t add to the building’s footprint meaning more land efficiency. An equal amount of cheaper surface parking would require more land. The Citizen Park building at Lindell and Euclid, which received a 10-year 100% plus 5 at 50% tax abatement, has over 300 parking spaces on four levels, three of which are underground. The original plan had 2 levels of underground parking. Despite ample parking nearby, transit options, and walkability of the neighborhood, NIMBYs insisted upon more parking.

Let’s imagine there was cheap virgin land next door to put surface parking. The overall project cost goes down and the developer no longer needs the tax incentive to move forward.

{The Orion received a $10M TIF. It has 445 parking spaces. $19,417 * 445 = $8.6M}
The thing is the public is still on the hook for the infrastructure along that low-productivity surface parking. More street, streetlights, water pipe, sewer pipe, etc for taxpayers and ratepayers to maintain.

Of course surface parking next to Citizen Park would have never happened. What does happen is developments in auto-oriented places do have the option to build surface parking and do so. To make the numbers work the developer doesn’t need tax incentives. But a subsidy exists in the form of the public’s infrastructure and service obligation; it’s just not on the developer’s pro forma.

The proposed 40 West Luxury Apartments in Chesterfield contains 258 apartments over 10 acres- more than 10 times the land area of the 217-unit Citizen Park.

We’re left to choose between the public’s perpetual obligation to provide infrastructure or the tax subsidy for the structured parking which will be the obligation of the property owner to maintain. Is the public’s obligation to build and maintain that infrastructure more costly than the tax incentives? We need to do the math!

Perhaps the lesson here is the realization of how costly the “need” for parking is, and how it is socialized. We subsidize it to get an urban form to maximize the land use’s productivity relative to the amount of infrastructure serving it or we build in an auto-oriented form and obligate ourselves to more infrastructure than a traditional form would require. And then we wonder why we can’t keep up with infrastructure maintenance and why our taxes and utility rates keep going up.

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  • rgbose

    “Ogilvie said the developer is seeking tax increment financing from the city to help pay for planned underground parking. TIF allows developers to take the increase in tax revenue and put that toward paying off development costs.

    “The underground parking is expensive and in this case, the tax increment financing would basically, one-to-one, offset the cost of the underground parking they have to build to make it work,” he said.”

    http://news.stlpublicradio.org/post/developers-seek-tax-increment-financing-proposed-dogtown-project

  • Matt

    As long as suburbia is massively subsidized, subsidization of urban development will have to be part of the mix.

  • HawkSTL

    All of these articles complaining about developers building parking garages and lots miss the obvious point. To sell/rent a higher end condo/apt., you need parking. The buyers/renters, as a whole, won’t sign without it. Years ago, we wouldn’t touch a place without 2 dedicated parking spaces. Why? Because we were paying enough and out jobs demanded mobility (not just where public transit goes). If you don’t build parking, those customers go to the competitor. That’s the market reality. The developers aren’t dumb.

    • Justin

      I agree that generally developers should be able to build as much (or as little) parking as they choose. I don’t think the city should have minimums or maximums when it comes to this.
      However, in the case of Citizen’s park the developers were pushed to add more underground parking because of complaints from local homeowners. If the developer wants less than 2 spaces per unit then they should be free to do it. As you said they are not stupid and probably know how much parking they need.

      • HawkSTL

        Well, that is the political reality at play in addition to the market. If the neighborhood isn’t on board, the developer doesn’t get a permit or tax incentives. If neighbors are ticked, the project is going nowhere.

        • Justin

          An unfortunate reality indeed. It would be interesting to see how other places have resisted these complaints and how forces against change can be reduced.

          • HawkSTL

            Not unfortunate – that is democracy at work

          • Justin

            Democracy isn’t unfortunate. It’s unfortunate that residents feel entitled to “free” parking and believe that it is city’s responsibility to store their property. The economist touches many issues that are discussed in Richard’s article. I think you’d find it interesting. See below:
            http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21720281-average-car-moves-just-5-time-improve-cities-focus-other-95-perilous

          • Alex Ihnen

            Yes – a good read. And, NIMBYism isn’t Democracy. Opposition is often a vocal handful of people who are looking out for self-interest, not for the well-being of the neighborhood or city.

          • HawkSTL

            Sorry guys, but why should people outside the 28th ward impact the design of buildings in the 28th ward? As a city resident, should I have a say as to what is built in U. City? No. CWE residents having input into how their neighborhood is developed is pure democracy. Contrast that with what you are proposing.

          • Bobby Gissendanner

            The tax abatement or TIF impacts all residents and city services.

          • HawkSTL

            Tax abatement temporarily? Yes. TIF? No. That is basic Xs and Os. The taxes received on the TIF are the same as before. That’s the I-for increment-in TIF.

          • Bobby Gissendanner

            TIF is explained on St. Louis Development Corporation website. Property taxes are frozen for up to 23 yrs. The Incremental tax revenue that the city would receive instead goes to the TIF project. The TIF project also gets 50% of new sales, earnings and payroll taxes. All these diverted taxes impact city services.

          • HawkSTL

            That’s the point. Everything remains the same until the TIF expires (TIFs don’t last 23 years because the consensus is that is too long, even though the City is authorized to have them last that long). City gets what is always got for the TIF’s duration. City gets more once TIF expires because property is put to higher use. Win-win. That isn’t a negative impact on “all residents and city services.” That is zero impact with a significant upside upon TIF expiration.

          • HawkSTL

            I’ll pose this another way. Alex – a developer with no TIF or tax abatement proposes to build a TOD with minimal/no parking spaces plans, within zoning requirements next door to you. The problem is that it will destroy your view, cast a shadow on where your children play, and will basically eliminate your privacy. The new residents will peer right at you. And, no, you didn’t have an expectation that this structure would be built when you bought/moved in — it is a next door tear down and rebuild project. Do you: a) round up neighborhood folks in an effort to impact the design; b) find that this furthers the well-being of the neighborhood or city and accept the impact that it has on you, your quality of life, and your property value? If you say that you wouldn’t NIMBY, no one believes you.

          • JZ71

            . . . or, c) do your homework before you buy! Either the zoning allows a TOD (or whatever) or it doesn’t. If the zoning allows it, it’s on you. If a zoning change is required, then you’re allowed to have input. Far too many people ASSUME that whatever they see is the most that will ever be allowed, when asking a few questions can avoid some unpleasant surprises . . .

          • HawkSTL

            Only point is that people tend to be hypocritical on NIMBY. Against NIMBYs when they are unaffected by development. Become NIMBY when it does affect them directly.

          • Nick

            The Economist article you site is in reference to cities (London, Boston, etc.) that have problems that do not apply to St. Louis. And regardless of whether or not residents feel entitled to “free” parking, that’s just the reality we live in here in St. Louis. Since we have to compete with the county and St. Charles for residents, we need to give similar amenities in our high-end residential properties, which means parking in expensive residential buildings. To deny people that just gives people more reason to live elsewhere.

          • Justin

            “The Economist article you site is in reference to cities (London, Boston, etc.) that have problems that do not apply to St. Louis.”

            Doesn’t mean we can’t learn from them. Specifically, The economist’s suggestion that parking minimums be done away with entirely.

            Sure the city has to be competitive and I don’t think people at high end buildings shouldn’t have access to parking. My objection is that developer was pushed into building more parking because NIMBYs in the neighborhood were so concerned on about their “free” street parking. I think Developers should be free to build as much parking as they want with a project particularly if it is structured. Small business can often find costs of parking an obstacle to beginning their new venture.

            Also I doubt people are leaving St. Louis because lack of parking. They are leaving because of crime and crappy schools. Most common complaint I hear from residents and former residents is about the crime. I think it’s unlikely that if parking becomes scarce in the CWE that there will be mass exodus of those with money from the neighborhood. Maybe a few will leave, but I doubt it will be many.

          • Nick

            I’m saying the lessons from those cities are different than the lessons needed for St. Louis. Cities like London, NY, etc. are so congested with cars, that indirect subsidization of parking makes a congested city worse yet. What they need is more subsidization of public transit, their most efficient option. We don’t have that issue in St. Louis. Driving through almost all city streets at rush hour is pretty easy. Living in CWE, it’s faster and more convenient for me to get in my car and drive to, say, Clayton or downtown at rush hour than to get there by metro. And as long as driving is more convenient, that’s the mode of transportation people will predominantly choose (unlike the NYCs of the world). Until that changes, if anything we should be spending MORE money on auto transportation in St. Louis (our roads are absolutely terrible, for one).

            And I’m not saying people are up and leaving the city because of poor parking. I do think it enters into the calculus when someone is choosing a place to live, however. And in a place like StL, we need everything we can get on our side to convince people to move into the city.

          • HawkSTL

            The parking isn’t fee. In the private developments, the condo/apt. residents typically pay $50 or more per month for the space. When they are public garages, you pay an hourly or monthly fee. Instead, the issue is parking availability. Two very different things.

    • rgbose

      Right, the project doesn’t happen but for the parking. My point is that the cost, at least in part, is being socialized either though TIFs and abatements or through additional public infrastructure. So pick your poison. We need to do the math. My guess is the subsidy of the structured parking is better because the obligation to the public infrastructure is perpetual. Another point is that auto-oriented developments appear not to have subsidies since it’s not on the developer’s pro forma, but there is one in the form of the additional public infrastructure obligation.

      • HawkSTL

        TIFs are not socialization. A portion of the added property taxes above and beyond the old use–due to the building of something new–go back to fund bonds. The increased property taxes would not exist but for the development. “Socialization” is incorrect b/c the added taxes would not exist without the incentives.

    • kjohnson04

      The city should not be allowing for parking minimums. Surface Parking should be rejected when requested. Residents living in an urban area should have some expectation that a massive surface parking lot won’t be foisted upon them, when there is usually a surplus of street parking. Your car isn’t going to be sitting in one spot all of the time. Ergo, there is no need for space to be dedicated to it. San Fransisco, Seattle, and New York are places where they don’t try to cram surface or structured parking on the neighborhood to appease some entitled condo owner. If they really need the parking space (and they probably don’t), buy a condo in Chesterfield.

      • HawkSTL

        Most of the City developers don’t plan surface lots (with the exception being hotels on occasion) and instead have parking garages. I understand that you and others don’t like the parking accommodations. But you are in the distinct minority of condo/apt. buyers and renters. If developers catered to you, they wouldn’t make any money. And there wouldn’t be any development as a result. There are many good things about this site. The bad thing, however, is that those with fringe/extreme world views think that others should bend to their will. And, yes, I put the above comment in that category.

        • Alex Ihnen

          Developers are being forced to supply more parking than they would like.

          • HawkSTL

            The situations where developers are forced into supplying more parking? The neighbors/neighborhood are forcing it because they don’t want to be feel the impact of too little parking. Some here then respond “get out.” Lovely. Funny that the neighbors usually are the ones paying property taxes and those who shout “get out” are typically not paying property taxes. Also funny that the ones not wanting the parking are typically not paying property taxes. I am in favor of sustainable transportation, which is why I come to this site. But, I’m not in favor of folks forcing the anti-car agenda on everyone and trying to make our lives miserable for it. No one that I knows says: “A traffic jam. Yay!”

          • Alex Ihnen

            This isn’t true. The “forcing” is baked into the process and virtually never part of a discussion at all.

            Also, there simply is no anti-car agenda, save from a couple individuals, but our transportation system is so tilted, basically requiring everyone to buy and maintain a car, that a little balance would be nice. Anyone suggestion a more balanced investment is instantly labeled as “anti-car”. Almost all cyclists and pedestrians are also drivers, it’s just that when we’re not driving, it would be nice to have quality infrastructure.

            We know from many places and many examples that streets that work for pedestrians and bikes also work for cars? The happiest drivers are found in the Netherlands, where more people ride bikes than anywhere else, and where smart infrastructure often separates uses. As you say, no one likes traffic jams, or searching for parking, but almost all of us are forced to do it everyday. That’s the problem. Until we built different, it will remain the problem. The only surefire way to increase traffic, and traffic jams, and parking headaches is to continue to require huge amounts of parking.

          • HawkSTL

            There is an easy/clear way to do things, and then there is the hard/no vision way to do things. Easier = rebuilding Hwy. 40 with 8 lanes (4 each direction) all the way to Chesterfield with MetroLink running down the middle. That would have alleviated traffic jams AND provided a mass transit alternative. Harder = rebuilding Hwy 40, sometimes with 8 lanes and some with 6 lanes, without a MetroLink extension. Point being, it need not be mutually exclusive. But, our leadership in STL always seems to make it mutually exclusive. It doesn’t need to be that way.

  • Riggle

    Notice how every one of these projects completely blocks the sidewalk. This doesn’t happen in other cities where the contractors are required to keep the sidewalk open. Besides the obvious (you can’t get there from here, no warning so peds are forced to j-walk mid block) the retail on the same block looses out on all foot traffic. This city is so backwards its insane. Build urban to promote foot traffic, kill all foot traffic in the process of building, killing the existing retail. Smart.

    • Nick

      The only retail around either major CWE project mentioned is the Whole Foods, and they’re doing just fine. It’s not a big deal at all.

      Second, even in Manhattan, during certain stages of construction of ANY major construction project, the sidewalk will closed for a certain period of time.

    • kjohnson04

      Pedestrians and cyclists are conveniently overlooked when projects are being worked on in St. Louis. If some of the developers pulled the nonsense with sidewalks they pull here in other cities, they would be cited by city repeated until rectified.

  • Tim E

    Another twist on the discussion. AT&T One Center is about to go empty with no parking to speak of. So how do you attract an anchor office tenant downtown or the next CORTEX building/development? Yes, plenty of spaces to be had in reality for St. Louis but downtown/midtown/Cortex is competing with everyone and everywhere else. In the region that means a lot of free parking on a lot of developable land w no real geographical boundaries (mountain range, ocean, great lakes). So do you subsidize a new garage for anchor tenant willing to put in the employees?
    ..
    Which goes back to case by case is the hard reality for St. Louis. To me the driving factor is if structured parking for residential promotes a built environment and specifically if it means infills and to lesser extent vertical development. One Hundred being a good example. For commercial space, its really about jobs. In other words, a major employer, yes, while retail not really

    • Jakeb

      The parking issue is a huge issue for AT&T One Center that I’ve been concerned about since AT&T announced it’s abandonment of the building. My offices are in “A” space downtown. We relocated within downtown 7 years ago. No in-building parking for the principals was a deal breaker. No very nearby parking for staff also a deal breaker. There is simply too much “A” space available with significantly better parking options. This is the reality and it doesn’t change just because we wish it were different.

      • STLEnginerd

        Seems like One Center has in building for Principals. I’d suggest a substantial garage be built under the gateway mall where the Serra statue is, with a complete re design of the space (as many of us wish for already). They could lease the spaces out during weekdays and make them available to the public during the weekends.

        It would have been nice to do this under City Garden before it was built, but no one could see this coming at the time i guess… Keiner however should have had the same treatment so that the Keiner garages could be replaced. No good excuse for missing that one…

        • kjohnson04

          That’s a solution. Build underground and you don’t spoil the surface environment with asphalt lots. I always hear people complaining about parking downtown, but everywhere I look there’s a parking garage, a surface lot, or a mall they converted into parking. There’s plenty of it.

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  • Chris

    In the case of Citizen Park, Park East Tower and a host of others you also need to provide ample parking for thr retail and retail employees. To justify the rents, and therefore the project cost, you need about 1.5 parking spaces per residential unit. Add retail to that mix and you are hard pressed to get away with anything less than 4 per 1000 sf. So 40 spaces for 10000 sf. You cant lease to retail tenants for the rates you need to get to justify the project cost without it. St. Louis just doesnt have, nor will it ever, have the density to justify fewer parking spaces whereby a retailer and neighborhood can survive on foot traffic and public transit alone. There are really very few places in the US that can.

    • Riggle

      There is a ton of retail with no dedicated parking, downtown, cwe, the loop cherokee and south grand all have such retail, what world are you living in?

      • HawkSTL

        One where a majority of shoppers drive – wait for it – cars.

        • Riggle

          And yet there is a ton of retail in the City and even the suburbs with no dedicated parking, again, what universe do you live in?

          • HawkSTL

            The real universe …

          • Riggle

            Where retail in urban areas doesn’t need dedicated parking

          • HawkSTL

            Wrong. You must not spend much time downtown. See MX on Washington. The whole mall was turned into a parking garage to support street level retail and surrounding offices.

          • Riggle

            And its not dedicated parking for any of that retail. You pay to park there.

          • HawkSTL

            Nope – the garages were built for that use. And, you get a validation if you eat, see a movie etc. at MX.

      • Nick

        People aren’t going to pay $1300 to $5000 / mo to live in the CWE if they don’t have an off-street parking spot for each car in the household to go with it…and I guarantee you virtually everyone in St. Louis renting at that price point has a car.

        • Alex Ihnen

          May be, though again, the developer, who is risking the most, would have been happy with 74 fewer parking spaces.

          • Nick

            Understood…but was the original proposal EXACTLY the same as the finished design except for the parking? Maybe the developer was envisioning less expensive units, or fewer units…etc.

            By the way, congrats on your move to Cincinnati, sorry to see you go but wish you and your family all the best

  • JZ71

    Absent from the discussion is the assumption that building the maximum number of residential units is a “given” – reduce the number of units and you reduce both the demand for parking and the cost to build the spaces!

  • John

    Seems like we have a research project to tackle, or has someone already gathered enough data to reach a conclusion? I understand every project is different, but this article raises a lot of good questions about the parking subsidy conundrum.

  • brickhugger

    I think some projects might merit subsidy, but on a case by case basis. I would like to see a garage at Delmar and Euclid with ground floor retail, office/residential/meeting space on the top two floors, 4 levels of parking, and a real masonry façade on the all sides (or at least as much as is visible on Euclid on the south side). I would support a TIF for that project, as I believe it would put a hole in the ‘Delmar barrier’.

  • Dustin Bopp

    Note: 40 West also includes structured parking under the two larger buildings along the outer road. Surface parking for all units would have required even more land.

    • rgbose

      Thanks. Am I right that they aren’t seeking tax incentives?

      • Dustin Bopp

        As I recall, they are not. And, to be more specific, there will be 92 underground spaces –46 in each of the two buildings. One per unit.

        • kjohnson04

          This should be done everywhere. You get the density, you get the parking, and no unsightly garages or lots.

  • Erin Godwin

    Is there any scenario in which subsidizing a mix of parking structure spaces and ride share service would make sense? I get that there is high parking utilization, but what is the dwell time of those vehicles? If a large enough number of existing parking garage and on-street vehicles only move occasionally, would it be possible to argue that some of the area residents (existing and future) might be satisfied with ride share considering the neighborhood density/walkability? Is keeping values as high as absolutely possible worth the financial or physical costs of providing parking spaces for every unit? I know ride share is usually not viable, but just an idea. I’d love to know others’ thoughts.

  • Nick

    “The Citizen Park building at Lindell and Euclid, which received a 10-year 100% plus 5 at 50% tax abatement, has over 300 parking spaces on four levels, three of which are underground. The original plan had 2 levels of underground parking. Despite ample parking nearby, transit options, and walkability of the neighborhood, NIMBYs insisted upon more parking.”

    When you’re marketing to potential residents at the price point of a place like Citizen Park, in a neighborhood like the Central West End, you almost HAVE to offer covered parking in the building…or your rents will suffer significantly. As such, you might as well lump in tax subsidies to parking with the rest of the project when doing a cost-benefit analysis of any kind.

    • rgbose

      Right, the project doesn’t happen but for the parking. We’re left to subsidize it directly or indirectly through more public infrastructure.

      • HawkSTL

        This subsidizing issue is a red herring. Richard, your taxes are not going to fund this stuff unless you shop in a TIF area – and even then, you have the choice to shop elsewhere. You don’t want a car? I support you 100%. But don’t force your choices on everyone else please.

        • rgbose

          No forcing here. Just pay what it costs and we’ll see how popular the choice is.

          • HawkSTL

            Easy answer — no development on that site will occur. Meanwhile, more housing and commercial development is constructed on the comparably cheap land in St. Charles County and Jefferson County. Right? How does that assist your goals?

          • rgbose

            Right, we’re in a situation where we have to subsidize the development directly through incentives of indirectly through infrastructure that the land uses aren’t productive enough to cover the cost of the infrastructure over the long-term.

          • HawkSTL

            The streets, for the most part, already exist in the city/inner suburbs. TIFs only spend the incremental increase and tax abatements are temporary/for a defined time only. If we’re talking the exurbs, the counties are paying the lion’s share of the infrastructure improvements. And those counties are relatively wealthy because that is where the growth is located. So, they also pay the larger share of state income tax and proportion of sales tax. The cities aren’t subsidizing the growth areas out in the outer ring/exurbs. I know you’ll debate me on that. So, in the MO spirit, show me–with STL area data–that I’m wrong.

          • rgbose

            Yes, the streets and other infrastructure already exist. That’s why I suspect subsidizing the development directly, rather than commuting to new infrastructure liabilities is the better choice (if we must choose between the two). That’s a big plus for HTCs for example.

            Already-built places subsidize the new areas. Where else does the wealth come from to build the new infrastructure? It’s leads to a growth Ponzi Scheme. https://www.strongtowns.org/the-growth-ponzi-scheme/ It all seems to work for the first generation or two, but when the infrastructure gets old and costly and the adjacent land uses aren’t productive enough to cover it, people who can bail for the next new place. We see that happening here in spades. Munis with aging spread-out development patterns are so low-productivity that they had to turn to ticketing people to death just to make payroll, let alone rebuilt infrastructure. Gov’t at regional, state, and federal levels enable the spreading-out.

            Here are some examples:

            In the 2015 the Fenton treatment plant was flooded. All MSD ratepayers had to bail it out. If the Fenton plant wasn’t built in the first place to serve the “growth” the wealth transfer wouldn’t have occurred.

            In MSD’s stormwater property tax. Productive land uses subsidize low-productivity ones regardless of how much impervious surface they have.

            In MO American water’s infrastructure fee to replace pipes in Stl County
            https://nextstl.com/2016/10/how-we-subsidize-spread-out-places-via-utilities/

            Page Avenue Extension. While drivers get to enjoy the partially state and federally-funded and untolled road, drivers who primarily use not state and federally-funded roads and streets get to chip in. The last piece got $43M in stimulus funding so even non-drivers got to chip in.
            “Critics of spending millions of federal and state dollars on the bridge and the extension have included the St. Louis County Municipal League.

            Tim Fischesser, the league’s executive director, said the project subsidized urban sprawl and the spreading out of the metro area’s population base which hasn’t grown much overall.
            “It made the region less efficient,” Fischesser said. “It made it more difficult for MoDOT to sustain the infrastructure. If you’re roughly serving the same amount of people but greatly expanding the infrastructure, it’s wasteful without more people.””
            http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/stcharles/opening-of-final-page-extension-leg-marks-end-of-decades/article_fbaa857e-80e5-5016-98b8-40dab6a2669f.html

            In Rockford IL’s water system
            https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/1/4/no-new-pipes

            A bailout of an unincorporated area near Mankato MN
            https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/1/16/this-isnt-an-annexation-its-a-bailout

            In Lafayette LA- where the makers v takers are
            https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/5/10/lafayette

            Infrographic comparing relative costs of infrastructure and service delivery.
            https://www.curbed.com/2015/3/9/9983202/suburban-vs-urban-infrastructure-costs

            Here’s a good lecture on the importance of land productivity.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFC_Q4WQKVk

            Please have a look

          • HawkSTL

            Thanks for a thorough response. Those examples indicate that it is more expensive overall to serve a spread out population. Agreed. That’s basic math. More miles of pipes = more cost.

            What the links don’t show, however, is that the urban population is subsidizing the suburban and exurban population. MSD’s Fenton plant was built in a floodplain b/c it was cheaper. Poor choice perhaps. But, MSD has many more pipes and costs to maintain in the City per capita. It’s not really that close. Then add the EPA consent decree. The cost of segregating stormwater from sanitary is huge and uniquely urban. Guess who’s paying the freight? County citizens who see little benefit.

            Mo American? A County fee exclusively. City residents don’t get water from Mo. American. So the County ratepayers are paying for County infrastructure.

            Page Ave. Extension serves St. Charles County. I don’t like that project. But, to be fair, St. Charles residents also paid for Hwy. 40 remake. Doesn’t really help St. Charles on commutes. Most of them take I-70 into the City.

            Other examples? Rockford is a small town by comparison. Mankato is a suburb. Lafayette is another small town. Not apples to apples.

            Again, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your response. The subsidy argument does not hold together. More expensive doesn’t mean there is a subsidy.

          • rgbose

            Boy you read all that and watched the 1h video fast!

          • HawkSTL

            Read everything, but didn’t watch the video. Caught me on that one:)

          • Riggle

            >:)

          • HawkSTL

            Not based on STL = not proving the point. Plus, none of it shows the urban areas subsidizing the suburbs. Logically, do you think 300,000 people in the City are subsidizing the 1 million people in the County who are paying more income tax, contribute more sales tax and whose property values are much higher per capita? That makes no sense.

    • Jakeb

      Yes, and the neighborhood is very concerned with street parking. The pre-war apartment buildings that line the 4500-4600 block on Lindell do not have sufficient parking for their residents. As a result, those residents park on the street. If you live in the homes in the 4500-4600 block of Maryland, the lack of available street parking for any quests is a significant issue that impacts the value of those homes. So, it’s understandable why the neighborhood wants amble garage parking for new, very large buildings.

      • JZ71

        Explain why it should be up to the new residents to (continue to) subsidize “free” on-street parking for existing residents?! Whose “fault” is it that “the pre-war apartment buildings that line the 4500-4600 block on Lindell do not have sufficient parking for their residents”? Shouldn’t those owners also be expected to invest $20K – $30K per space to provide “sufficient parking for their residents”?

      • Justin

        If someone is able to own a house on Maryland Ave I would presume they are pretty wealthy. It sounds to me that these people ought to be constructing their own garage or parking pad. How far should the city go ensure free and convenient storage of one’s private property (i.e., car)?

        • HawkSTL

          Right – so you get to tell a person with a $600k plus house what to do with their backyard/parking? I too would want the garage. Others want a larger yard/garden. But, you don’t get to have a say unless you live there and are part of the neighborhood.

          • Justin

            I am not suggesting they be compelled or forced to build a garage. They are free to choose whether they want garage or a garden. But if they choose a garden, don’t expect that convenient and free parking should be guaranteed.
            Instead of complaining about parking residents should take responsibility for their own property and arrange for storage of their car when not in use.

          • HawkSTL

            People feel like they should be able to park in front of their house. Agree that it is not a God-given right. But, walk around and you’ll see some heated arguments about it.

          • Jakeb

            They are also free to present their concerns to the elected officials who represent them and vote for the alderman who listens to their concerns and represents those concerns to the City. Old fashioned, I know, but it is democracy in action. No one says the rest of us have to like it.

      • Imran

        I live on the 4400 block of Maryland and on nice evenings and weekends, all the street parking is taken up by workers and patrons on the Euclid/Maryland business district. I welcome the increased pedestrian activity. It’s the price I should expect to pay for a vibrant environment. All those homes on Maryland have garages or parking pads accessible from the alley. We don’t buy street parking when we buy a house.

    • Alex Ihnen

      Perhaps, but the developer would have been very happy to build with just two levels of underground parking. I believe the extra level added ~74 spaces and the cost was of the extra level was roughly equal to the tax abatement.

      • Nick

        Well, my next question is, how many units are in this building? 225 spaces as per the original plan seems extremely light for a building of that size. My building has about 2 spaces for each unit, and the lot’s almost always full. To me (and I’d bet to most potential renters) not having ample on-site parking for a pricey building like CP in such a busy part of the CWE could very well be a dealbreaker. So if added parking helps sell rental units and increase density, isn’t that tax abatement money well spent (in theory)?

        • Justin

          Well spent for whom? It seems to me that public money is going to subsidize storage of cars for wealthy people and given the number of problems in our city at the moment this money could have been better spent elsewhere.
          Additionally, the developer probably did some research and were confident that they would be able to rent the units even with fewer parking spaces.
          Self-driving cars, which are not far off, won’t require on site parking so this garage may not be the best use of space at that point. They are expected to reduce the need for car ownership because as it is most cars are not in use 95% of them the time anyway.

          • Nick

            “We have better use for tax dollars” is the predominant argument against using abatements for development. The problem is if you take away abatements, you usually don’t get any development, or at the very least, not nearly as nice of a development. In the case of no development, there would be little to no value in the property to tax anyway, so there’s really no loss.

            If you want to say “well, the rich people can park off the street like the rest of us!” The rich people then say, “ok, you just gave me a good reason to rent in Clayton or Chesterfield instead.” Without wealthy people living in city limits, then we have no tax base at all. Further, people don’t seem to realize StL isn’t Nashville or Austin, the market rates for housing rentals and sales are much lower here, so to make it worth the developers’ while to build big projects, we have to sweeten the pot. That’s just the reality. It’s either that or watch the city whither away entirely.

            And we’re decades away from self-driving cars being implemented on a large scale basis, so we probably shouldn’t worry about that for a while.

          • Justin

            Fair points. I think we should certainly use financial incentives in certain areas, but the CWE is probably one where it isn’t necessary (except on the fringes).

            I highly doubt this would have lead many people to move and if they did it is not like they wouldn’t be able to sell the home because of the lack parking (not everyone values parking equally). Demand for housing for housing is strong in the CWE and if some wealthy people left others will likely replace them.

            Not saying we should disregard people because they’re rich, but it is sort of like giving free stuff to people who need it the least.