I met with Pat Schwartz executive Director BOMA Suburban Chicago this week and the conversation got me to thinking. I understand Don Shoup’s ideas about no parking minimums, fair enough. But what happens if the use for a building changes.
Pat says that a number of her members are concerned about not having enough parking. These are large suburban office complexes surrounded with acres of parking that for years had gone unused. How could they run out.
It seems that the use for the buildings change. Where there was only one person in a 400 square foot office, they are now installing call centers with eight or ten people in the same space. It seems that call centers are returning to the US from India for a number of reasons and these high employee per square foot users need some place for their folks to park.
Suddenly the acres of parking isn’t looking quite so over built. In fact, Pat told me, a number of her members are looking at building garages in their spacious parking lots to handle the increase in usage.
Developers need to think about parking availability as the use of their buildings change. Call centers, insurance or home loan processing, fulfillment operations, all need people and they often, particularly in suburban areas, need places to park since rapid transit isn’t suited for low density housing.
I agree with Don that have a parking “requirement” mandated by a planning commission is inappropriate, but the developer does need to consider just what kind of tenant the development might attract when the second or third generation of uses comes along. Automated parking systems or temporary steel structures might solve the problem rather than a bricks and mortar parking building.
Its happening right before our eyes, at least in the burbs around Chicago’s O’Hare.