Mark Beffort, perhaps the most respected and influential player in the downtown office market, is looking forward to some relief in the parking shortage as 1,800 new spaces open up from the Arts District to Midtown.
“If you were to have talked to me this time last year, all of us in the real estate business downtown were a bit stressed about parking,” Beffort said. “Now, where we sit today, we’re all breathing a bit easier. But we still have tremendous pressure as more and more people look to move their offices downtown in addition to the residential activity we are seeing.”
Anecdotally and judging by the numbers, parking downtown this year hasn’t been fun.
The four city-owned garages are over-sold with an occupancy rate of 115 percent — and that rate would be worse if not for the 52 percent occupancy recorded at the Century Center garage, which has been shut down for repairs.
Garage construction can be seen throughout downtown, with the largest addition — a new 800-space Arts District Garage being built at 431 W Main — set to open by this fall. The 10-story garage will include 20,000-square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
Dowell Garage expansion
Rick Dowell, meanwhile, is hoping to finish work this month on a 390-space expansion of his Dowell Garage at 433 N Harvey Ave. that will expand its capacity to 694 spaces. Dowell, who has redeveloped several properties, said he has held back on leasing space in his Metropolitan Building, 400 N Walker Ave., because he has allowed for 600 people to park their cars on the adjoining lots even though they are not tenants.
“We have those folks who I hope will park in the garage, and we’ve got a letter of intent taking up 200 spaces (in the expanded garage),” Dowell said.
At 123 NW 10, work also is expected to wrap up on the 282-space, 123 Parking Garage within the next six weeks.
The garage is tied to three building renovations now underway by Midtown Renaissance developers at Pontiac and Buick buildings at 1100 and 1101 N Broadway, and the Hotel Marion, 110 NW 10.
“The primary use is for the tenants of the Pontiac, Buick and Marion buildings,” said Chris Fleming, a partner in Midtown Renaissance. “We most certainly will open up what is left to the neighborhood, and we’ve had inquiries for leasing spaces.”
The garage, Fleming said, was critical to developing the three buildings, which all stood largely empty for years if not decades.
“You look at the history of these buildings, and we don’t get tenants in them if we don’t have anywhere for them to park,” Fleming said. “They alone warrant a couple spaces for employees, guests and customers.”
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