Car-Oriented Cities See Rise in Car-Free Developments

No longer tied to minimum parking requirements, housing developers are starting to shift to more walkable, transit-oriented projects.

1 minute read

March 15, 2023, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Housing developments near Metrorail in Miami, Florida. | Rudy Umans / Shutterstock

Developments designed to discourage private car ownership are being built in some traditionally car-oriented parts of the country, serving as potential models for future car-light development.

According to an article by Patrick Sisson in Bloomberg CityLab, “A confluence of trends has made such projects both more financially viable and marketable — especially in the South and Sun Belt, where zoning rules are often more permissive but car dependency and the urge to sprawl can be just as powerful.”

With parking spots costing tens of thousands of dollars apiece to build, developers are finding it more attractive to build communities without sprawling parking lots. “The Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley estimated that parking adds up to $36,000 per unit of new housing built in the state.”

Sisson describes developments in Charlotte, Tempe, and Houston that are drastically reducing parking and creating walkable and transit-oriented spaces. A proposed 17-acre development in east Houston by Concept Neighborhoods with little on-site only became possible after the city relaxed parking requirements in some parts of town, letting developers decide how much parking to build. In Miami, a new high-rise development next to the Douglas Road Metrorail station touts public amenities and ground-floor retail.

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