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Fewer parking spaces in Seattle apartments likely to drive up prices

Erin Hennessey

As Seattle continues to focus on urban density, parking for those living within the urban core is becoming harder to find.

Developers are promoting new apartments with hundreds of parking stalls just for bicycles. Others are making room for car-share companies such as Zipcar to park their vehicles. That has KPLU's John Maynard wondering. If there are more apartment units going up with limited parking space, will the price of parking on private property (in buildings, in outdoor lots, etc.) go up? Seattle real estate appraiser Richard Hagar tells Maynard that if densely populated cities such as Hong Kong are any indication, the answer is "yes." Hagar says parking spaces are a hot commodity in Hong Kong, selling for about $167,000 a spot.

"There is something to be said for these "green" parking options for high rises close to mass transit, but it will also likely drive the prices up for available parking spaces. "

Locally, Hagar points to the high price tag for the Butler Garage in Seattle's Pioneer Square - Smith Tower area which just sold for $14,850,000 or $34,000 per space.

Hagar says that the city of Seattle has rules that say if the developer encourages the use of mass transit or another form of transit other than a car, then they will be allowed to add another 20-30 apartments in their complexes.

"Fewer parking spaces means the city will usually say OK to higher density, so there's some profit to be made by these developers, no question about it."

Meanwhile, the trend for fewer parking stalls doesn't appear to have made its way to Bellevue yet. A four-building 450-unit apartment complex is planned for the Overlake area with an underground garage with 600 stalls.