With the completion of Tribute Communities’ Residences at the RCMI this year, Toronto saw its first condo without parking spaces. It’s an impressive feat for a 42 storey tower, but one that may trouble buyers for whom a car is a necessity.
Tribute’s condo at 426 University Avenue won’t be the last condo built without parking, but it’s too early for the notion to go mainstream. While the city of Toronto supports lower car use to curb congestion, there’s no indication that condos without parking will soon become the norm. The city is keeping its minimum parking requirement for downtown condos at 0.6 parking spots per unit.
It is, however, a sign of the times. Minimum parking requirements were adopted across North America in the 1950s. It was assumed that most middle and upper class people would drive. Cities required developers to provide parking for those expected to use their buildings.
With the revival of transit and reinvestment in pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, driving is declining as a mode of transportation. Even when people without cars must drive, car share programs provide easy access to a car at an hourly rate—Tribute’s parking-free condo will have nine spots only, which are reserved for a car-share program.
Providing parking is an additional building expense—one that developers will gladly skip if demand is low. Including some parking with every building is sage—there will always be people who need a car for business, far-flung commutes not served well by transit, transporting their families or as car enthusiasts.
Condo parking spots can be a valuable investment, but mainly in older buildings without restrictions on who can own a parking spot in the building. Many newer buildings require that someone own a unit in a building to own a parking spot there, citing security concerns.
Would you buy a condo without a parking space? Location is an important factor. Downtown is best served by transit and all places downtown can be easily reached on foot or by bike. Condos in suburban areas generally have ample parking available.As transit improves and car use declines, demand for parking spaces should decline. We would even wager that demand in the suburbs will fall as well—less parking is needed in new buildings.
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