Campus neighborhoods have different visions for parking, transportation

While some neighborhoods oppose developments seeking to reduce the minimum amount of parking, others embrace them.

Madeline Deninger

As areas around the University of Minnesota continue to develop, neighborhood organizations are taking different approaches to solve parking woes. 

Developers of residential buildings in University neighborhoods have often applied for fewer parking spots than required by the City of Minneapolis. While some neighborhood organizations push against parking reductions, others have embraced them. 

When developer Harlem Irving Companies requested an exception to the City’s parking requirement for its Prospect Park loft project in February, the Prospect Park Association encouraged the reduction and even pushed for fewer parking spots. 

“When you have less than one-to-one parking for [residents] and people see that’s it’s working fine, I think that makes it easier the next time that things are proposed for [less parking] to be accepted,” said Evan Roberts, PPA chair of transportation and safety. 

Roberts said the aesthetic and environmental benefits of less parking are apparent. Plus, he said PPA believes the Metro Transit Green Line, which runs through Prospect Park, helps support a neighborhood that is less dependent on cars. 

Ward 2 Minneapolis City Council member Cam Gordon said residents are more comfortable with fewer parking spots when new developments are built along the Green Line. 

“That, I think, makes people feel like there will be more use of transit and less need for parking,” Gordon said. 

Chris Lautenschlager, executive director of the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, said while the neighborhood welcomes new developments, members will always oppose developers that apply for fewer parking spots than required.

“There will never be an instance where we’re okay with a parking variance, just because we try to go with what our [neighborhood association’s] master plan suggests,” he said. 

In January, MHNA looked at a multi-tiered parking project to examine and combat parking violations in the neighborhood. One of the goals was to help give residents concrete data to oppose developers applying to reduce minimum parking.

Recent developments in Marcy-Holmes have applied for exceptions to the City’s parking minimums, including the micro-lofts project on 408 4th St. SE from developer Go Gopher Rentals, LLC. 

The City Planning Commission stated in a report that the project was along a high-frequency bus route, claiming that would be an alternate form of transportation for residents. 

But Lautenschlager pointed out that Metro Transit’s Route 6 bus does not operate at a high frequency in the neighborhood. 

“Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a high-frequency bus route at that location. It’s just patently untrue,” he said. 

Improving bus routes in the area is the best long-term solution to parking shortages, said Ward 3 Minneapolis City Council member Steve Fletcher. 

Fletcher said he supports a direct, high-frequency route from Dinkytown to northeast Minneapolis.  

“We know that … higher frequency routes that run late enough for people to go out and have fun, or work their later shift jobs and still be able to get home, will make people feel more comfortable relying on transit as their primary way of getting around,” Fletcher said.