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The Road Ahead: How Uber, Lyft, and Driverless Cars Could Change Commercial Real Estate

February 20, 2017

The Road Ahead: How Uber, Lyft, and Driverless Cars Could Change Commercial Real Estate on morrissegroup.com

A look at the potential impact of disruptive technology and service

There’s a revolution on the road ahead and it’s picking up speed. Just a few years ago, order-by-phone car services like Uber and Lyft were a novelty. Today, they’re more like a necessity – so much so, that along with technological advances, the idea of driverless cars is no longer the stuff of science fiction. In fact, they’re coming.

With changes in the road ahead, it’s only natural for them to have an impact on nearly every industry, including the commercial real estate market.

More car services, less need for garages

First and foremost, with an increase of car services – either with a driver or without one – there will be less of a need for building tenants to lease parking spaces in garages, no matter if that garage is beneath an office building or in a nearby location.

As a result, revenue garnered from parking spaces will decrease for the landlord. Rather than paying a monthly fee for a space, commuters and tenants will likely direct their money toward affordable transportation plans.

In addition, developers will have a chance to redirect their commercial investment funds. Instead of budgeting for garage space, dollars could be spent in other areas of the building, such as an enhanced lobby, security systems, or expanded office space.

The shift in commuter behavior and the lobby

When more commuters arrive to work via Uber, Lyft, or a driverless car, the question for developers is what to do with the front of the building. Fewer tenants will enter the building from the garage. Instead, the front of the building will become even more of a hotspot.

Landlords and developers will have to address morning traffic flow so there isn’t a jam at the start of the workday.

Similarly, at the end of the workday, building lobbies will become a hive of activity as tenants and commuters congregate to catch their waiting car. The front area of buildings may have to feature a holding pen for arriving vehicles, while the lobby may have to look more like an airport terminal with shops, cafes, lounges, bars, and charging stations to keep commuters occupied and entertained until their ride home pulls up. In addition, these areas could generate additional revenue.

What to do with all that space?

Inevitably, there will still be diehard drivers who will need a place to park – but what about all of the additional square feet now available for something else? According to Commercial Tenant Resource, today’s ratio of 3-4 spaces per 1,000 square feet of office space could potentially drop to 0.01 spaces per thousand. This is where creativity and ingenuity will have to take the wheel.

For starters, on-premises garages could be designated as holding pens for car service vehicles, or something more. Retail space? Gyms? And let’s not forget about parking garages, very often located in prime locations. They – or the property on which they stand – can be repurposed, perhaps as a combination of commercial and residential real estate.

Navigating the road ahead

Morris Southeast Group is excited about the road ahead and the changes and challenges it will bring to the commercial real estate marketplace. For a free consultation on how you and your current or future properties can keep up with the changing times, you can reach our team at 954.474.1776, or call Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via his email, kenmorris@morrissegroup.com.

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