OP proposes convertability and parking maximums for downtown
After many months of analysis and public meetings, the Office of Planning has issued its preliminary recommendations for zoning in DC's highest density downtown area. The recommendations include combining the Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) and Common Lot Development (CLD) programs into one simpler system, unifying the numerous zones and overlays into six zone types, apply design standards across the high density zones, and promote convertibility and unbundling in parking.
Photo from Office of Planning.
On parking, the recommendations try to discourage parking which residents or office tenants have to pay for, but don't need. If commercial buildings construct more parking than necessary, or if future evolution in the numbers of people driving versus taking transit make existing parking less necessary, there's often no way to reuse the space. OP recommends that zoning limit the amount of "non-convertible parking" to one space per 1,500 square feet of office or one per 500 square feet of retail.
Convertible parking needs ten foot ceilings and flat floor plates instead of the continuous ramps in some large parking garages. Participants at the last working group meeting also suggested floor weight-bearing requirements, since office space requires greater weights than a level of parking, and cargo elevator access.
Some buildings already use underground space for office uses. One participant at the working group worked on 1875 Pennyslvania Avenue, which he said has two subterranean floors with a copy center, offices, and a moot court. Buildings could also utilize unused parking space for file storage, retail such as drugstores, conference rooms and more.
On the residential side, OP recommends a maximum cap on the amount of parking set at 0.8 spaces per unit. Limiting parking to just below the number of units would make buildings much less likely to "bundle" spaces with each unit, selling them as a package and depriving potential residents of the chance to choose whether or not to buy or rent a space.
These maximums would only apply in the high density downtown areas, which include the "Downtown" (Metro Center/Gallery Place area), "Golden Triangle" (around K Street), the Mount Vernon Triangle, the Judiciary Square area, NoMa, the Southwest Federal Center, the Capitol Riverfront around the ballpark, and Buzzard Point. All of these areas, possibly excepting part of Buzzard Point, are extremely close to one or more Metro stations; perhaps the maximums shouldn't apply to that one area.
The other recommendations revolve around the zoning tools in the existing Downtown Development District and how to apply them to the issues facing today's downtown. In the next part, we'll look at those.
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