Easing of city parking ban seen boosting housing

'Out of town buyers were always mystified by the ban.'

For real estate agents like Christopher Wall of Residential Properties, trying to sell or rent a house in Providence lacking off-street parking has always been a unique and often infuriating challenge. More

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GOVERNMENT

Easing of city parking ban seen boosting housing

'Out of town buyers were always mystified by the ban.'

Posted 8/20/12

For real estate agents like Christopher Wall of Residential Properties, trying to sell or rent a house in Providence lacking off-street parking has always been a unique and often infuriating challenge.

“A dealbreaker – people will not even look at a place once they examine it and find out the parking is inadequate,” Wall said. “That is a major factor in their decision-making.”

While parking is a big deal in most cities, Providence’s 80-year old overnight, on-street parking ban – combined with its modest mass-transportation system – has long put a yard-paving premium on off-street parking.

Now that the ban is gone – or at least softened by the new permit system that went into effect citywide July 1 – Realtors hope it will eventually provide a boost to the local housing market.

“I think it will help every segment – single-family, rentals and condos,” Wall said. “The buyers that would come from out of town were always perplexed and mystified by the parking ban. They thought it was provincial and silly to devalue properties unnecessarily that don’t have as much off-street parking.”

Agents who specialize in Providence real estate said densely packed neighborhoods – such as College Hill, Fox Point and Federal Hill – should have the most interest in the new overnight-parking-permit system.

“I think for those properties on College Hill that suffer from the lack of parking, it would certainly increase sale prices for single-family homes,” said Gordon Dwan, managing broker for the Providence office of Lila Delman Real Estate. “And then rentability is always enhanced when there is more parking.”

Providence has been the only major metropolitan area in the country that prohibits overnight on-street parking. In a 2009 study for the city, consultants with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. estimated that each off-street parking spot added $200 per month to the rent of apartments in the Fox Point neighborhood.

Providence has been working on an overnight-parking-permit system for years and introduced a series of pilot programs before the current system and fee structure was phased in, first on Federal Hill in April, and then citywide July 1.

Residents can buy an annual overnight-parking permit for $100, with a maximum of two per household, and can get a guest pass for $25 that allows a car to park on the street for five nights per month. With the new system, the do-not-tag list that allowed visitors to park on the street temporarily by calling police has been eliminated.

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