DENVER (CBS4) – The Regional Transportation District estimates that the number of drivers has decreased by about 70% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Park-N-Ride lots and garages are empty as much of the state continues to work from home.

The RTD board of directors will vote on Tuesday on a resolution to convert some empty parking spaces into affordable housing.

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“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. “

According to RTD, 35% of all housing units developed on RTD properties are given to low-income households. The term “affordable” corresponds to the requirements at the state and local level.

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 would benefit from increased passenger traffic, revenue through co-development and improved relationships with communities. RTD cannot yet say how many developments would be built if the resolution passed, but there are some features with potential for development.

“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.

People who use Park-N-Rides every day won’t be out of place. According to the RTD, the number of replacement parking spaces will be determined based on the parking occupancy before the pandemic.

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According to Brady, the response from the RTD board of directors has been positive. In a preliminary vote, the committee unanimously approved affordable housing. Brady expects the measure to be passed on Tuesday.