At the last Lakeland and Berwyn Civic Association meetings, the proposed multi-family development at 4700 Berwyn House Road was presented and discussed with the developer, Keane Enterprises, represented by Andy Shuckra and Chris Hatcher. 

The community responded with their concerns, specifically surrounding parking and how a potential insufficient parking scenario could impact our neighborhoods. Lakeland is already equipped with permit parking and is unlikely to experience unwelcomed parking; however the regular visitors at Spellman House will have more competition for the limited 2 hour parking along Berwyn House Road. The Berwyn neighborhood does not have permit parking, with the exception of Pontiac Street immediately off of Route 1, and could experience an influx in parking as a result of our City becoming more densely populated. Free parking is scarce in our City, so those who seek it will find it and they will find it in the Berwyn community. However, it may be premature to say that unwelcomed parking will be a direct result of the proposed parking ratio in the 4700 Berwyn House plan. Will residents of 4700 Berwyn House Road need more parking than is being allotted by the developer? Will they, and their guests, be willing to park back in Berwyn and walk a half mile or more to and from 4700 Berwyn House Road?  

It will be difficult to answer those questions until the development is complete and residents move in. As shown in my previous post, Keane's detailed site plan is very much in line with the Route 1 sector plan that envisions a more urban, densely populated, and walkable corridor and they remain confident that their parking plan for this development and its intended market will be a match. When questioning Keane about their vision for parking and transportation, they responded:

...the prime location of the property offers residents excellent access to multi-modal transportation and the ability to walk to the University of Maryland.  The Applicant anticipates that the residents of the proposed development will use a variety of transportation modes in addition to cars.  These modes include:
  • Metro – 1 mile away by Trolley Trail
  • Purple Line – planned to be .5 miles away
  • Bus – Route 1 Ride makes getting up and down the corridor convenient
  • Shuttle – provided by UMD with stops nearby
  • Bicycle – the Applicant has proposed a Capital Bikeshare down the block and will provide 110 bike spaces within the proposed development 
The Applicant emphasizes the differences between this property’s location and the location of the most recently approved multifamily developments along Route 1.  Those locations are relatively isolated from the University, metro, and retail services compared to 4700 Berwyn House Rd.
 
Second, the target resident includes professionals, UMD faculty and staff, and graduate students.  Many of these folks will be affiliated with the University, which is easy to access by walking, bike, or shuttle from the proposed development.  The Applicant anticipate a core demographic will be residents in the 22 to 35 year old age range.  It’s well documented that this age group is leading the trend in reduced driving rates and vehicle ownership.  They tend to prefer walkable locations and choose transportation options based on the trip they plan to take.  The location of the proposed development offers walkability, as well as proximity to mass transit and a growing retail service base in the neighborhood.  All of this should contribute to less parking demand.
 
Third, technology is changing the way transportation is used and goods are obtained by consumers.  Services such as Bikeshare, Uber, and Peapod have made it more convenient to live without a car.  The future can’t be predicted, but it seems reasonable that these services will only become more prevalent and efficient as time goes by.  Ever increasing gas prices are also a contributing factor toward lower vehicle ownership.  To be clear, the Applicant is proposing a parking ratio that it believes works for conditions as they exist today, but it’s worth considering recent trends.
 
In short, the Applicant believes that the proposed development is well suited to attract the professionals the City desires.  With that as backdrop, here is our response to your specific concerns.
 
Parking Solutions
The Applicant offers the below parking solutions which include:
    • Assist the City in underwriting a permit parking program for the Berwyn citizens.  This is the most effective way to directly address the existing parking problems.  It should be noted that in urban and urbanizing areas, there is almost always a permitted parking program.  The Sector Plan uses Connecticut Ave in Washington DC as an example of an urban area.  Virtually all side streets have permitted parking along Connecticut Ave.
    • 4700 will commit up to $10,000 at building permit toward a City transportation fund.  This fund could be used toward a variety of purposes including, Trolley Trail improvements, bikeshare subsidy, Route 1 Ride promotion, offsite bike spaces in key locations, or other facilities that help promote walkability.
    • Designate specific employee and guest parking spaces within the garage.
    • Provide each new resident with a $25 metro card for a period of 1 year after opening.
    • Add up to 30 spaces for motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds.  The Applicant anticipates that scooters and mopeds will be prevalent in a college town and will help reduce parking demand.
The City Planning Staff is currently working with the developer to adapt the proposed development plans (to be shared later) to fit more in line with the sector plan and other interests of the City. However, since the parking ratio is line with area standards, the The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which has final approval on the development, will most likely not object and/or require significant changes.  For this reason, neighbors should focus their energy on what we can do to address real or perceived problems:
  • Should Berwyn take advantage of the developers offer and expand permit parking? Should permit parking be applied to the whole community or strategically on streets experiencing realtime issues?
  • Should the developer be held to LEED Certification Standards given the treatment as a Walkable Node (WN) zone?
  • What can our community do to ensure that strategies to promote walkability and public transportation are actively pursued?
  • What can our community do to ensure that housing like 4700 Berwyn House are attracting the diversity in housing that will attract diverse commercial amenities?
Stay tuned... I will post the City Memo, which contains response and recommendations tomorrow.