Mpls. backs parking spot rule change for some new apartment buildings

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New apartment buildings built near regular mass transit lines in Minneapolis will no longer have to provide off-street parking spaces for all their tenants.

The Minneapolis City Council on Friday approved an amendment to its zoning code that will mean small apartment buildings built within a quarter mile of a regular bus service, or a half mile of a rail service, will not need any off-street parking for its residents, WCCO reports.

The new rule applies to buildings with fewer than 50 units outside of downtown, and was put forward as a way of making apartment construction more affordable for developers, keeping rents low for tenants, and boosting transit use.

The Star Tribune notes large apartment buildings with more than 50 units will still have to provide some off-street parking, but developers only need to provide one space for every two apartments, rather than one for each.

"This change will allow developers to stop designing their projects around parking," council member Lisa Bender – who proposed the change – told a meeting Friday. "It will allow more flexibility in design and I think people will be a lot more excited about the projects they see coming into their neighborhoods."

Bender said that the ordinance will benefit small-scale, non-luxury developments, the Star Tribune notes.

This is because having to provide off-street parking can be prohibitively expensive for developers, who then pass on the additional costs to renters. A council document released last month estimated a single above-ground off-street parking space adds $20,000 onto the cost of construction.

An underground parking space meanwhile sets developers back around $55,000.

Council limits flavored tobacco sales

Another decision made at Friday's council meeting will see the price of cigars increased to a minimum of $2.60 per stick, as well as restrictions of the sale of flavored tobacco.

KSTP reports city convenience stores will no longer be able to sell flavored tobacco products, namely cigars, electronic cigarettes or hookah tobacco (flavored cigarettes are already banned).

Only specialist tobacco-product shops will be allowed to sell flavored tobacco, bringing its availability in Minneapolis from Jan. 1 down from 420 stores currently, to just 25.

KSTP notes city leaders wanted to restrict the sale as they are popular among youths when they start smoking.

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