City could alter U-area parking policies

A new amendment may allow residential developers to offer fewer parking spots along the Green Line.

Anne Millerbernd

A new fix for an old parking dilemma is making its way to the Minneapolis City Council.

The city’s zoning and planning committee passed an amendment Thursday that would change the number of required parking spaces provided per bedroom. The entire City Council will review the amendment at its next meeting on Friday.

The change would ratchet the mandated ratio in some areas near the University of Minnesota back from one parking spot for every two bedrooms to one for about every three.

Originally, the requirement called for apartments in the University area to make available half a parking spot per every bedroom or dwelling unit — whichever number is higher.

If the amendment passes the full council, that requirement will remain in some areas but drop down to 0.35 spots per bedroom in other places, including the West Bank, Stadium Village, Prospect Park and Dinkytown neighborhoods.

Daniel Oberpriller, owner of CPM Companies, is developing the University area’s largest housing complex yet on the corner of Huron Boulevard Southeast and Washington Avenue Southeast — right along the Green Line light rail’s tracks.

Although the proposed amendment would lower the parking-to-bedroom ratio for WaHu, the new housing complex, Oberpriller said it will provide about one spot for every two bedrooms. Because that’s more than the proposed requirement, he said he will be able to offer some retail space parking.

Still, Oberpriller said because Minneapolis is a “commuter city,” his residents will need to drive and have a place to park their cars.

“I think the Green Line is allowing people to bring their cars less,” he said, “but I mean you still have to take a ride on the Green Line a ways to get to a grocery store.”

Once residential development ramped up around the University district about five years ago, parking began to spill into neighboring streets, said Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon, who authored the proposed ordinance change.

As a result of that and other issues, the city began restructuring its parking requirements with a sweeping change that applied the ratio of one space per bedroom across the city, Minneapolis city planner Haila Maze said.

But soon after that amendment, developers began to petition the city for variances because residents weren’t filling the parking spaces.

“The areas around the transit stations, that’s where the some of the biggest projects are … and that’s also where we were granting the largest variances,” Maze said.

Even if the City Council approves Gordon’s amendment this week, Maze said the area’s parking matters wouldn’t be completely resolved. She said the city has been getting calls from neighborhood partners to examine parking in area business districts next.

“We’re trying not to do too many things at once,” she said. “Nobody’s considering this the be-all-end-all parking requirement changes.”