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Parking in a Changing CRE Marketplace: Adapting & Futureproofing

September 25, 2019

Steps to take today and for tomorrow

When it comes to parking, people generally have a lot to say—and when asked to comment on the state of it, they usually turn to words like “headache,” “necessary evil,” or some words this blog can’t repeat. Let’s just say that it’s safe to say that most people loathe parking, especially in crowded cities. Along with traffic in South Florida, it’s very often a big downside of time spent behind the wheel.

And that’s actually a little disappointing (bear with us). Because in today’s rapidly changing CRE landscape, parking is actually kind of an exciting topic, with new challenges leading to some cool new ideas.

Why parking is changing

A combination of increased residential and commercial properties in congested downtown areas, a changing demographic that telecommutes and sees little need for car ownership, shared workspaces, advanced automotive technologies, and ride-sharing options are all coming together to change parking needs.

The result is parking garages that are strangely both over-crowded and under-used, depending on the hour and/or the day of the week. Further complicating matters are future predictions that parking garages will become very close to obsolete. To meet the challenge, there are two general courses of action: meeting today’s needs and future-proofing for tomorrow.

Solutions for parking today

All too often, parking garages are somewhat of an afterthought in CRE—which is odd, since in many cases, they are actually the first impression many visitors have of a building. They are, in a sense, the true lobby. And as such, they often need to step up their game.

To help make parking more convenient and personal, some garages have created reception areas, valet services, parking assistance technology (such as LED lights for drivers to easily locate available and handicap spaces, and digital signage of available parking on each level), automotive detailing services, designated areas for taxis and ride-sharing vehicles, and improved lighting and security.

In addition, many garages have established shared parking arrangements with neighboring businesses. The needs of the businesses involved help to determine how best to establish this parking partnership. For example, a commercial business may need parking spaces during the workday, while another—a restaurant, perhaps—needs those spaces in the evening. Sensors, counters, and other technologies can help negotiate overlap times.

Solutions for parking tomorrow

Developers and architects now sit at a crossroads when it comes to parking garage design. Municipalities want either a minimum or a maximum number of spaces, while many predictions point to a future in which parking will be a thing of the past. One report, for example, projects that those five years old and under will not get a driver’s license.

To meet this challenge, more and more garages are being designed with an eye toward futureproofing so they can be easily converted into other uses. This means level rather than graded floors, ceiling heights that meet office and residential standards, openings that can be easily fitted for future window placement, and open shafts that can someday house ductwork and wiring.

Around the world, the future is here. The repurposing of parking garages is already happening, from Wichita, KS, where a parking garage was converted into an apartment building, to London, where one became a hub for small businesses. Making preparations now not only helps a building project stay relevant for a longer period of time. It’s also cost-efficient in the long term, as it costs far less to repurpose than it does to demolish and start from scratch.

Paying attention to parking is critical

While parking may not become completely obsolete anytime soon, predictions indicate it could significantly diminish in relevance. For developers, investors, and owners, it’s a smart idea to keep an eye on parking trends. In the present, adequate and convenient parking keeps visitors and tenants satisfied. For the future, it keeps the CRE property relevant and profitable if one plans to hold the property for many years.

The Morris Southeast Group team has already seen the struggles malls have had in meeting the challenges created by e-commerce. When it comes to the future of parking garages, it makes sense to prepare today so they remain adaptable.

To learn more about parking solutions and requirements, property management services, investment opportunities, and/or other services, call Morris Southeast Group at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

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