Why parking lot development is critical to NYC’s sustainable future

August 22, 2012 06:00PM

Real estate developers who look at parking lots and see development potential rather than cars have the right idea, according to a study released today by Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate cited by Crain’s. The study argues that the city should work to encourage building on land reserved for parking, which is often critical to developers seeking to assemble larger plots with more buildable square feet for higher density structures.

The study, commissioned by Edison Properties, the city’s largest owner of parking garages, found that land that previously served as parking lots tended to allow for bigger developments — ranging from 16 percent more square feet, on average, in Lower Manhattan to 46 percent more in Midtown. That’s because parking lots tend to be sites that allow developers to grab surrounding properties for bigger construction lots, which allow for more density, and therefore, more sustainability, according to Jesse Keenan, the center’s research director.

Of course, this doesn’t come as news to real estate developers. One-fifth of all projects commissioned between 1996 and 2010 below 59th Street in Manhattan and in downtown Brooklyn included land that served as parking lots. What may be news is the report’s conclusion that because of the increased sustainability these sites offer, the city should encourage their redevelopment.

As previously reported, Edison Properties proposed a residential development and park at a Hudson Square parking lot. [Crain’s]