According to a new report from apartment market consultants Dupre + Scott, developers in the Puget Sound region are building less and less parking per unit in new apartment buildings, a trend they see continuing for the forseeable future.
"Gone are the days when developers build in one to two parking spaces for each apartment unit," Dupre+Scott co-owner Mike Scott said in this week's "Weekly Apartment Update" video. And "it looks like this trend is going to continue for at least the next few years."
Although the trend toward less parking is much more pronounced in the city—where new apartments built between 2011 and 2016 are expected to average just 0.7 spaces per unit—than in suburbs like Bellevue, where new apartments had 1.4 spaces per unit, overall, the average Puget Sound region apartment will have just under 0.8 spaces per unit by 2016, Dupre+Scott predicts.
"The suburban markets," Scott said, "are still pretty car-centric, but if you look at the in-city Seattle market ... and also the north end of Seattle ... you can see that the parking ratios are less than one to one and significiatnly less than one to one." And that's just counting conventional apartments; if microhousing, which typically includes little or no parking, was included, the ratio would be even more lopsided.
What's going on? Scott says the reason for the reduction in parking is a combination of "market realities"—parking spaces cost a lot to build, so developers prefer to build as few of them as possible—and "consumer preferences": People, especially inside the city, have fewer cars (i.e., they're more likely to get around by bus, on foot, or by bike), so they don't want to pay for parking spaces that will just sit empty.
The bottom line: Apartment builders (much like the city's parking division) follow the law of supply and demand. Developers don't build amenities that people don't want, and for the foreseeable future, anyway, Seattle renters don't appear to be demanding much parking.