DENVER (CBS4) – The Board of Directors of the Regional Transportation District unanimously voted Tuesday evening to convert vacant Park-N-Ride lots into affordable housing. Many of the RTD parking lots were empty during the COVID-19 pandemic as employees work from home across the subway.

RTD estimates that the number of drivers has decreased by about 70% as a result of the pandemic. The resolution aims to develop residential homes on RTD plots, with 35% of the units granted to low-income households.

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Bus commuters at RTD Park-n-Ride in Westminster. (Credit: CBS)

“There’s a lot more that could be done with the land, especially if you go upstairs,” said Chessy Brady, RTD’s Transit Oriented Development Manager. “Those who live in affordable housing are more likely to use our transit system. When you put affordable housing development on the transit, you will and will benefit many of these people. “

An RTD study of underground parking use showed that developers are building more parking spaces than they need. Building a parking lot costs around $ 15,000 per parking space for RTD. That price jumps to $ 25,000 per parking space for garages.

According to RTD research, 61% of low-income households do not have a car. According to RTD, these numbers are important when it comes to finding developers to build affordable housing.

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“If we get them to replace 100% of our parking spaces, it’s a huge amount of money that they can’t spend on affordable housing because they pay so much to replace our parking spaces. By reducing the number of rooms they need, we reduce overall development costs and make these negotiations more affordable, ”said Brady.

By abandoning residential real estate, RTD will benefit from increased passenger numbers, revenue from co-development and improved relationships with communities. RTD cannot yet say how many developments will be built, but there are some properties with development potential.

“Everywhere you look there are websites with potential. They all have different challenges and different developers will be able to address them in their own way, ”said Brady, who added that developers are interested in the RTD lot on the 38th and Blake in Denver.

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People who use Park-N-Rides every day will not get out of hand. According to RTD, the number of spare parking spaces will be determined based on the number of people who parked before the pandemic.