How Much Parking is Enough at Warm Springs?

Lennar gave an update on their project at the future Warm Springs BART station. There isn’t a lot to report as they mainly just showed some specifics of where the building footprints would actually be. They did present some specifics on parking requirements and I questioned whether these would be adequate. (I will defer the similar discussion about Walnut / Guardino since we have a study session on that tomorrow.)

For the Lennar development, the rental units would all have a requirement of only 1.0 spaces per unit. This seems woefully inadequate. It’s also unclear how guests would park at the facility. Some of the Warm Springs developers talked to me early on saying that they wanted to see the parking requirements raised to 2.0 spaces per unit for part of their development. They noted that it would be hard to sell a unit in that location with less than two parking spaces given there is no ‘there’ there yet in Warm Springs and there likely won’t be for several years.

I could totally relate to that. Personally, my wife and I are busy professionals that live in a suburban environment. Having only a single car between us would make our lives very difficult. While I understand the desire to create a city dense enough where having a second car is not necessary, we have to be realistic and admit that Fremont is just not that kind of a city right now. Even in the downtown and Warm Springs area, many of the two and three bedroom apartment units will undoubtedly house two working people both of whom have a car. Even a stay-at-home parent requires a car to run errands, take their kids to school, etc. We don’t have reliable transit service to accommodate these trips and we are not dense enough so that many of these could be walking trips.

I also have a problem with the commercial parking for this development. The proposed parking for the rental units and the commercial buildings in the Lennar proposal would be in the same parking structure with residential on the top three floors and commercial on the bottom two. This yields a value of about 1.0 parking spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. of office space. The standard for office space in Fremont is 3.3 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft. While the standard value could be reduced given how close this is to BART, one space per 1,000 sq. ft. seems like way too few. They are proposing that the commercial building developers could build underground parking to accommodate additional demand. My back-of-the-envelope calculations find that the cost of one floor of underground parking would increase the cost by about $12 million. And a single story of underground parking would only increase the parking ratio to about 1.6 spaces per 1,000 sq. ft., still way below the standard.

As I’ve noted before, creating a situation where the office building needs to finance its own underground parking, perhaps two stories worth, will make the eventually development of commercial space at this location less and less likely. The parcels in question will be at the core of “Innovation Way”. It’s a shame to think that there may be nothing but housing at this ‘innovative’ location for years to come.

No action was taken at this meeting. A final proposal will be submitted for approval at some point in the near future.

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