Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Creating an Urban Parking Experience

As I have shared before, parking regulations can certainly impede or slow development in urban settings. More often than not, there is just not enough space for a structure and the parking to accommodate. Off-street parking requirements can also create a barrier to affordable housing. For these reasons and more, my readings seems to agree that municipalities are slowly changing their parking regulations. Last year, about 15 cities repealed parking requirements, and I believe the trend will continue.

In Birmingham, we have found that granting exclusions on a case-by-case basis is a solution to the present regs. A recent conversation with one of our customers brought another interesting perspective. He touched on the “experience” of parking as a way to sway the doubtful. This could be as simple as up-leveling what you walk past to reach your final stop. As we continue to find ways to adaptively reuse vacant structures, making larger chunks of downtown vibrant, I suggest that commuters would more willing to park and walk a little farther. It’s a snowball effect. We are also seeing developers propose parking experiences by creating unique crosswalks and inviting landscape environments to please the senses along one’s path.The possibilities are even wider now, with ride sharing services readily available. As our developer friend said, “If you build a great destination, people will find a way to get there.” I couldn’t agree more.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.