In January and February of this year, the City of Alexandria approved significant changes to the commercial parking standards and the calculation of floor area.
Amendments to Floor Area
The floor area amendments effectively closed the loophole between the Building Code’s definition of “habitable space” as space with a ceiling height of greater than 7 feet and the Zoning Ordinance’s exclusion for space with a ceiling height of less than 7’6” in height. At the same time, the new floor area regulations allow for additional exclusions for interior loading docks, up to 50 square feet per bathroom, architectural features up to 30” (cornices, for example), and decks and balconies up to 8’ in depth, among others. Additionally, the new regulations now require that above grade parking garages count against floor area.
Projects that are actively going through the development approval process can opt to use either the previous floor area definition or the new regulations until August 2018. In two of our projects – one near the Braddock Metro and one in Old Town — we have been able to translate the bathroom and balcony exclusions into several thousand more square feet of floor area to be used in other parts of the proposed buildings.
For more information regarding the new definition of floor area, click here.
Right-Sizing Commercial Parking Standards
After the first comprehensive review of the City’s commercial parking standards in fifty years, a task force of community members — including Cathy Puskar — and city staff proposed significant updates to the parking requirements for commercial uses in Alexandria. The new parking standards classify land as either within the Enhanced Transit Area or outside of it. The Enhanced Transit Area includes a wide swath of the City around the existing and proposed Metro stations and BRT routes. The policy imposes minimum and maximum ranges for hotel, office, restaurant and retail and other commercial uses. Within the Enhanced Transit Area, the retail parking requirement ranges from 0.25 to 3 spaces per 1,000 square feet of floor area, the office requirement ranges from 0.25 to 1.5 per 1,000 square feet, hotel from 0.2 to 0.4 spaces per 1,000 square feet, and restaurants from 1 to 3 spaces per 1,000 square feet. This represents a significant overall reduction in required parking for many commercial uses and allows developers a certain degree of flexibility in providing parking.