Friday, August 22, 2014

Parking pinch means more garages coming to downtown Dallas

A new wave of construction is coming in downtown Dallas.

Don’t expect more shiny office towers, trendy loft apartments or retail space. Oh, there’ll be some of that.

But what’s really in demand now is parking.

With downtown’s worker population on the rise, developers and building investors are trying to figure out where to put all the cars.

For decades that wasn’t much of an issue: Dallas’ central business district has had acres of ugly surface parking lots.

Now some of the lots closest to downtown’s biggest office skyscrapers are starting to vanish thanks to new developments and public projects.

That’s put a pinch on parking.

“It’s a double whammy,” said Steve McCoy, principal with commercial real estate firm Transwestern. “More people are coming downtown at the same time we have fewer places to park.”

McCoy said while mass transit plays an important roll getting workers to the central city, there’s still a need for parking.

“It’s one of the top negotiating points for companies that lease office space,” he said. “They want to make sure their people have a convenient place to park and it is secured.”

Many of the office towers built downtown in the 1980s weren’t designed for the number of workers they now house.

“We are cramming more people into less space,” McCoy said. “You are seeing the densities go way up.”

And it wasn’t uncommon for the towers to provide about one parking spot for every 1,000 square feet of workspace.

Most companies now want at least twice that much parking.

Building new parking garages isn’t cheap.

The 1,271-space, seven-level parking garage that’s under construction next door to American Airlines Center in Victory Park costs more than $30 million. That works out to about $24,000 a space.

Garages inside Dallas’ core could cost even more depending on the land value and other factors.

An eight-story garage and retail building planned on Pacific Avenue in the heart of downtown is expected to run as much as $100 million.

That’s a lot of money just to park a bunch of Hondas and Chevys.

The new owners of the 60-story Fountain Place tower on Ross Avenue say they plan to build a huge parking garage on the north side of the skyscraper.

And other investors who have the landmark Trammell Crow Center on Ross are eyeing a surface parking lot across the street for developing another garage.

And that’s only the beginning.

Several more of these large parking structures will be needed to keep up with downtown’s growing population.

“We are going to need it, not just for the office tenants but also retail and more,” McCoy said.
Karl Zavitkovsky, who heads the city of Dallas’ economic development office, says parking is a problem, but it’s a good one to have — meaning more people are coming downtown.

“It’s one of the major challenges we are going to face going forward,” Zavitkovsky said. “The city is taking a long look at this to see what kind of involvement we should have.”

By Steve Brown- Dallas News