The proposed building project on 306 First Street West looks like it will be a go. They have kept within the boundaries of heritage ambiance and flair of new world architecture. The building will be a complementary look to the current sad, empty lot; however, one concern is always parking.
The proponents have requested a variance when it comes to the amount of parking that the City would ideally like to see. The lot in question has sat empty for well over 30 years; however any construction to the lot requires parking requirements which at this point is 11 stalls and one loading bay.
The applicants are proposing to provide two parking spaces on the lot, no loading area, and are requesting a variance for the shortfall of nine parking spaces and no loading area.
Like many other downtown buildings, providing parking is unrealistic and very few (if any at all) have parking for customers. One method for consideration that the City has always kept in the back pocket is Cash-in-Lieu policy. This is designed to reserve funds for parking facilities elsewhere in the City for when parking cannot be provided with certain developments, much like this potential new building.
In a Council report, Planner Daniel Sturgeon wrote, “These funds could alternatively be put towards vehicle use reduction strategies, such as improved bicycling infrastructure, or other parking demand reduction strategies.”
The cash-in-lieu fee would come at a rather hefty price of $20,000 per stall that was required, but not attainable. This could mean a $180,000 fee from the applicant. As far as the loading bay goes, there is no levy for the omission of the bay.
“The City currently has approximately $166,000 set aside from cash-in-lieu payments and accrued interest. All of these monies were collected when the per stall amount was $2,500. Monies in the account prior to 2005 do not have associated addresses or development projects.”
Businesses that are already in existence in the core are at a slight advantage as they do not have to provide parking for their customers. However, all new buildouts are required to consider parking moving forward. Several options have been offered to the proponents help alleviate that heft levy but it will still come at a cost.
“The requirements for parking for the basement and first floor of the building be waived, and that parking requirements apply only for the second and third storey (office uses) of the building – approximately 250 square metres (with generous exclusions of stairwells and storage areas). This would equalize the parking requirements with other one-storey commercial sites in the downtown area.”
This option brings down the amount of stalls required and ultimately lowering the cash-in-lieu charge. As they have two stalls on location they would need three off-site parking spaces, or $60,000 for those three spots as cash-in-lieu.
Parking in the downtown core (or anywhere in Revelstoke for that matter) will remain a growing concern. For those interested in building in the core, this is a good reminder of a cost that may not have been budgeted for. Removing parking requirements or the cash-in-lieu fee is not likely to happen for future build outs. While this fee seems to land in the ‘unfair’ ball field for future developers, if it is not set in place the cost of parking is passed onto the municipality thus, the tax payers.