Theses Master's

The Repercussions of Minimum Parking Requirements on the Economic Viability and Historic Character of Traditional Downtowns

Phillips, Michael Andrew

In order to remain competitive, older suburban downtown centers must maintain the valuable neighborhood character of the ‘Main Street’ and address the challenges associated with vehicular parking. The object of this thesis is to use the Village of Tarrytown, New York as a case study to examine the repercussions of minimum parking requirements on the traditional character and economic viability of older downtown centers. Through an analysis of the spatial application of Tarrytown’s zoning code, this study found that the mixed-use and traditional features that make up the character of the downtown are out of compliance with the village’s own minimum parking regulations. Through an evaluation of twenty years of Village-sponsored parking interventions, this study also found that these ‘solutions’ have not alleviated the public’s perception of a ‘parking problem’. While parking may certainly be a spatial challenge in traditional downtowns, this study suggests that minimum parking requirements, in this context, are unrealistic regulations that are an impediment to continued economic viability. These regulations exacerbate the tensions between maintaining a downtown’s traditional character and fostering economic development. Punitive fines should be eliminated for unrealistic parking regulations in traditional downtown districts and regulations should instead include a multifaceted, forward thinking approach that incorporates design guidelines, input from the small business community and contributes to and enhances the built environment. This thesis illustrates how parking has presented challenges for Tarrytown and suggests recommendations to better address the regulation of parking. By understanding how parking regulation reforms fit into the framework of Tarrytown, planners and regulators may apply these lessons to the parking policies of similar traditional suburban centers in effort to preserve downtown character and maintain economic viability.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
King, David Andrew
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 28, 2016