Greystar, the Charleston, SC-based multifamily developer that recently wrapped up construction on the King Soopers-anchored Elan Union Station apartments at 20th and Chestnut, has submitted plans to the city for a second apartment project on the same block. Known as Ascent Union Station, the project will feature 142 apartments in a 14-story building. Here is the site outlined on a Google Earth aerial:
Please note: the images below (courtesy of the Mulhern Group, the project architect) were included in the project’s development application to the city and are preliminary design concepts that are subject to further modification and refinement.
View of the northeast side of the tower facing southwest, with Wewatta Street on the left and Elan Union Station on the right:
View of the southeast side looking northwest with Wewatta Street in the foreground and 19th Street on the left:
View of the southwest side facing northeast with 19th Street in the foreground and Elan Union Station on the left:
According to plans submitted to the city, parking will be accommodated on two full levels underground, about half of the ground floor, and the entire second floor. A total of 278 vehicle parking spaces will be provided—8 for the retail and 270 for the residential—resulting in a parking space/residential unit ratio of 1.90 (270/142). Does that sound high to you? It should, because it is.
For comparison purposes, let’s take a look at the parking ratios of some of the other residential developments in the Union Station area. Please note: parking spaces dedicated specifically to retail uses have not been included in the totals below.
- Platform: 243 parking spaces, 287 residential units, ratio = 0.85
- Cadence: 216 parking spaces, 220 residential units, ratio = 0.98
- 1709 Chestnut: 537 parking spaces, 510 residential units, ratio = 1.05
- Pivot (17W): 670 parking spaces, 580 residential units, ratio = 1.16
- Elan Union Station: 469 parking spaces, 314 residential units, ratio = 1.49
- Alta City House: 452 parking spaces, 280 residential units, ratio = 1.61
- Ascent Union Station: 270 parking spaces, 142 residential units, ratio = 1.90
Not only is Ascent Union Station’s proposed parking ratio significantly higher than any of its neighbors, including its sister property Elan Union Station, but it is significantly higher than other downtown apartment projects that don’t have the benefit of being located directly across the street from the region’s largest transit hub. For example, the parking ratio for One City Block = 1.23, Broadstone RiNo = 1.35, and SkyHouse Denver = 1.36.
In fact, Greystar could completely eliminate the 68 parking spaces planned for the entire second floor of Ascent Union Station making the new parking space count 202, replace them with 13 additional residential units—the same number of units as on the third floor—making the new unit count 155, and end up with a new parking ratio of 1.30, which would still be higher than Platform, Cadence, 1709 Chestnut, and Pivot. Eliminating the parking on the second floor would also make what is already a pretty good-looking building look even better.
The three primary defining characteristics of great urban spaces and downtowns in particular are density, mixed uses, and a pedestrian-prioritized public realm. Incorporating such a high number of vehicle parking spaces into a project located in what is arguably the most pedestrian/transit-focused place in the entire region is bad urbanism. I hope Greystar will reconsider their parking plans for Ascent Union Station.
2015-12-21 EDIT at 3:45 PM:
There’s been discussion in the Comments section about the unit-type mix within the various projects listed above (as in the number of one-bedroom versus two-bedroom units, for example) and the impact of that mix on the number of parking spaces provided. Doing some quick research on this question, I’ve come up with the following (numbers for 1709 Chestnut and Elan Union Station were not readily available):
- Platform: 216 studio/1-br units, 71 2-br units, 358 total br, spaces/br ratio = 0.67
- Cadence: 181 studio/1-br units, 39 2-br units, 259 total br, spaces/br ratio = 0.83
- Pivot (17W): 445 studio/1-br units, 135 2-br units, 715 total br, spaces/br ratio = 0.94
- Alta City House: 185 studio/1-br units, 90 2-br units, 6 3-br units, 383 total br, spaces/br ratio = 1.18
- Ascent Union Station: 41 studio/1-br units, 87 2-br units, 14 3-br units, 257 total br, spaces/br ratio = 1.05
Looking at the parking space/bedroom ratio, Ascent Union Station fairs a little better since it has the lowest percentage of 1-bedroom units and the highest percentage of 2- or 3-bedroom units compared to the other projects. Alta City House has the highest parking ratio under this analysis with 1.18 parking spaces per bedroom. Still, the proposed Ascent Union Station will have more than one parking space per bedroom which, given its location next to the city’s biggest transit hub, doesn’t make much sense to this urbanist.