There's yet another downtown Minneapolis apartment tower being proposed, promising all the bells and whistles of its nearby competitors. But a key amenity is missing: parking.
And while Village Green and Pratt Ordway Properties currently plan on offering just 12 parking spaces for a 293-unit apartment building that would be at 10th Street and Marquette Avenue S. in the heart of Minneapolis, the proposal may be just fine with the city.
"We do try to minimize parking downtown because there are just so many parking options already," said Hilary Dvorak, principal planner for the city of Minneapolis
Unlike elsewhere in Minneapolis, the city doesn't have a minimum parking requirement for large apartment complexes downtown. In fact, it imposes a maximum limit of 1.5 parking stalls per unit, she said. "Exceeding their maximum would be more concerning to us," Dvorak said.
Michigan-based Village Green is no stranger to restricting parking for its projects. It developed and now owns and operates the Soo Line Building City Apartments, which has 254 units and no parking of its own. However, that building was a major historical rehab project. Without the options of new construction projects, Dvorak said the company arranged contract parking with an adjacent ramp for the residents.
Village Green spokesman Roger Tertocha said Friday that "no concrete decision" has been made on pursuing contract parking for its proposed building at 10th and Marquette.
The plan is still in its early design stage, he added, and "it's premature to talk about the development at that level," Tertocha added.
Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Bender recently proposed loosening the city's overall minimum parking requirements to more closely mimic downtown's rules, particularly along transit lines.
Doing so places the decision on the developer, allowing the market to drive the project's success.
Mary Bujold, president of Maxfield Research in Minneapolis, says there will be people willing to live without an in-house parking garage.
"But then it depends on how closely you can get parking. If it's right across the street in a ramp for a couple hundred bucks a month, people will do it," Bujold said. "Then other people will say, 'Screw it,' like in New York and decide they don't need a car."
Of course, with so much new product coming online in downtown Minneapolis, renters have options and some will favor buildings with parking.
"People's time is valuable so the more inconvenient you make it for people to get someplace, the harder it will be," Bujold said. "We actually have an increase in reverse commuters — those who live downtown and work in the suburbs."
The 26-story, 253-unit Nic on Fifth apartment complex, at the corner of S. 5th Street and Nicollet Mall, opened last year and has 330 parking spaces. Other new buildings, such as 222 Hennepin, Velo Apartments and the Paxon in the North Loop, all offer parking, with heated stalls typically touted as a luxury upgrade.
Village Green's new project, if it proceeds as planned, will be a test of the market's carless tolerability.
"If they don't want to offer parking, it's their choice," Bujold said. "I guess we will see if it works, won't we?"