Parking Demand Report
This movement to right-size parking supply is prevalent because of the resurgence of America’s downtown and urban settings. The urban lifestyle began to make a comeback in the 1980s and today’s young professionals and college graduates are more apt to move to an urban setting than the generations preceding them. Projections for future demographic growth across the U.S. predict that this trend will continue for the next few decades. As a direct result of this urban renaissance, parking planning has been elevated, with urban parking planning at the forefront of any new development. Many times, the parking required may determine the viability of a new project and whether it can move forward or not.
The problem is that we are still applying the historical parking practices we learned from our experiences in the suburbs of America. The result often is an overabundance of parking supply in our downtowns. A recent study completed in Dallas showed more than 55,000 parking spaces in the downtown with an average occupancy between 50 and 60 percent. A study in one section of downtown Atlanta, Ga., showed more than 90,000 parking spaces, with around 50 percent occupied.
Using generic industry standards, we can project that the cost of the overbuilt parking spaces was $1.5 billion and the development density forfeited could be near 27 million square feet—which are staggering numbers. As an industry, we have over-planned for parking and limited the influence of shared parking by restricting spaces; we are treating our downtowns like so many fragmented strip shopping centers. Over-parking in a shopping center, of course, results in a few hundred extra spaces. Over-parking in a downtown area could result in thousands of extra spaces and a significant loss in potential development, resulting in huge potential reductions in the tax base.