Brad Blankenship: All I Want for Christmas is a Parking Space

Brad Blankenship
Brad Blankenship

At the risk of writing a blog post to an audience of readers who most likely have a private parking space or seemingly have no trouble parking in the central business district, I have a suggestion: You probably shouldn’t get used to it. CBD parking is dwindling, and the topic could be a significant point of negotiation in lease renewals.

Based on commuting statistics, you most likely don’t use alternative transportation to get to work. You probably don’t walk, bike, ride a motorcycle, carpool, take a ferryboat, ride DART, or work from home. You expect your private parking spot to always be there, just like your golden retriever, dependable and always welcoming.

Imagine a daily commute to the office that ends with a parking spot search similar to Christmas Eve at NorthPark or game day at the Cotton Bowl. Sure, you think, “This couldn’t ever happen to me.” But what about your valued employees?

The future of plentiful CBD parking is on the verge of extinction. Here’s why:

• Increased office density. Office buildings constructed in the 1970s and 1980s were built for an occupant density of one per 350 square feet. Today’s tenants have densified their office to find real estate efficiencies and increase collaboration, leading to an average ratio of about one per 225 square feet. Back office operations are even tighter, at one per 180 square feet.

• Low parking ratios: Except for the very newest office buildings, most buildings in the CBD provide a parking ratio of 1.5 spaces per 1,000 square feet.

• Lack of surface lots: Back in the day, skimpy parking ratios were never a problem, because Dallas always had plenty of supplemental surface lots scattered throughout the CBD. Today many of those lots have office buildings on them, several are currently under construction, and even more are slated for construction.

• East Side vs. West Side: Nowhere is safe; in recent months, the west side has seen nearly 16 acres of surface parking change hands or be slated for other uses. For now, the east side of the CBD is retaining surface parking better than the west side. However, the east side will certainly see diminished overflow parking once Spire’s development starts.

• Increased demand for public parking. Sure, DART was designed to accommodate some of this pressure, but consider the increasing daytime demand for public parking at the Arts District, Klyde Warren Park, and urban retail for live/work/play developments. The few remaining surface lots are also targets to meet a burgeoning demand for green space by the CBD’s growing residential population—a totally different kind of “park.”

Add this all together and, Dallas, you are staring down the bumper of a parking shortage.

So what’s the best way to combat the growing concern over parking? Should we build more parking garages? Should we convert older, nearby buildings into parking structures? Should we all start riding DART?

Only time will tell what the best solution is, but something will need to be happen soon. Some tenants in today’s market may take the “We’ll figure it out” approach, while others, whose primary business is consulting services, count on CBD space that will “attract and retain.” There’s no doubt, parking will increasingly be a top-line negotiation with both landlords and company recruits.

With each passing year, Dallas becomes a more mature city, much like New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. Like those cities, our growing pains will help to drive innovation and new paradigms both in how we commute, office and, park.

Brad Blankenship is managing director of project and development services for Cassidy Turley. Contact him at brad.blankenship@cassidyturley.com.

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