OCF Realty is proposing 50 row-homes on a dilapidated block in Philadelphia’s Point Breeze and they have no plans for attached parking.
NIMBYs are going to freak out about this on two contradictory fronts, both ridiculous.
One complaint will be that this is going to “gentrify” the neighborhood. This is where I think people need to tighten up their definitions of gentrification. Gentrification means displacement via rising land rents. Adding more housing can’t displace people – only building too little housing can do that. Gentrification is not a catch-all term for anything and everything that improves a neighborhood through increased amenity value. Unfortunately we do not have a consensus that conditions should get better in this neighborhood (less blight, less vacancy, more amenities), and it’s that kind of decline thinking that’s going to animate resistance to this project.
The other thing NIMBYs are going to freak out about is parking. OCF wants to keep this area walkable and affordable by not building expensive underground or street-level off-street parking. They’re aiming to attract tenants who don’t own cars. That makes sense in a city with declining car ownership, and it makes sense in a neighborhood that is a short walking distance from Center City and from transit. It also makes sense in a relatively poor neighborhood because cars are the most expensive personal transportation option and requiring parking drives up rents. By a lot.
So people who are going to complain about housing affordability and parking in the same breath are going to be making a completely nonsensical objection. I’m not optimistic this is a message that can break through, but it can’t be repeated enough: requiring parking makes housing more expensive.