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Monday, 15 October 2018 20:41

Self-Driving Cars Are Coming, But Developers Aren't Reducing Parking Yet, Survey Finds

Written by Roger Vincent, Los Angeles Times
 A Lincoln MKZ outfitted with self-driving sensors. Despite the inevitability of autonomous cars, developers are still not reducing parking spots in the projects they build, a recent survey has found. A Lincoln MKZ outfitted with self-driving sensors. Despite the inevitability of autonomous cars, developers are still not reducing parking spots in the projects they build, a recent survey has found. Ryan Nakashima / Associated Press

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Self-driving cars may be inevitable, but few office developers want to spend money preparing for the changes they will bring.

 

That’s the conclusion of a recent survey of real estate professionals, despite the expectation that ride sharing and autonomous vehicles will drive down the need for parking in the decades ahead.

 

Most office developers are still reluctant to foot the extra cost of building garages that can be converted to other uses or even build smaller garages, said Andrea Cross, head of office property research in the Americas for real estate brokerage CBRE, which conducted the survey.

 

“Tenant demand for office parking is going to continue to stay strong for the next five years, despite all the talk of worker mobility from ride sharing, autonomous vehicles and other on-demand transit options,” she said.

 

Growing reliance on public transportation in some urban centers has led developers to cut back on the amount of parking they create, but in auto-centric markets such as Southern California, there has been little reduction in the ratio of parking places to employees because the vast number of workers still drive to their jobs.

 

Self-driving cars are expected to someday drop off workers and depart or park themselves in tighter quarters than human drivers can, thereby reducing the demand for garage space.

 

A few landlords are looking a decade or so ahead to that future and building parking structures that can eventually be put to other uses. Such garages often have flat floors instead of slanted ones and higher ceilings like those found in office buildings. Ramps may be placed on the outside of the structures so they can be removed later.

 

Some developers spend extra to put part of a garage underground so that the top floors can eventually be removed and an alternate use created over the subterranean levels, as landlord Trammell Crow did in 2015 at an office tower in Bellevue, WA.

 

However, the cost of convertible garages is about 17 percent higher than that of traditional parking structures, CBRE said, which is off-putting to developers in part because they expect to sell their buildings before parking needs decline.


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