Parking is not just important at your commercial building or apartment property; it is absolutely crucial for any business. Without it, potential tenants and their customer will reject the building. Parking spaces may be located below, at, or above ground level but wherever located, there must be enough spaces to accommodate the realistic, projectable needs of the particular building.
What Is Adequate Parking?
What determines adequate parking space depends on the kind of building involved and its location. For example, there should be three or three and a half parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of building space at inner city office buildings, according to experts in the field. On the other hand, for office buildings located in the suburbs, there should be at least four parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of building space.
For an industrial or manufacturing building, the preferred parking ratio is two to three spaces per 1,000 square feet of building space. For warehouse and distribution buildings, one parking space for each 1,000 square feet of building space is usually considered ample, but these layouts must include turn areas for large trucks.
Restaurant and bar establishments with seating for service of food and/or drinks requires one parking space for each four seats.
Restaurant (fast food): 2,500 square feet of building area – 1 space for each 100 square feet of building area. If no customer service or dining area is provided – 1 space for each 275 square feet of building area. Drive-in service – 8 queue spaces for each service lane.
For multi-family housing buildings, the square footage is less significant than the number of units in the building. One or two parking spaces for each housing unit covers most needs in suburban locations, with less parking spaces needed for inner city residential buildings because of the availability of extensive public transportation.
Local zoning codes typically include parking requirements for newly built commercial properties. Although the ratio of parking spaces to square footage of building varies from city to city and from suburb to suburb, here are typical requirements:
- Medical facility– 6 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet.
- Restaurant– 10 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet.
- Furniture store– 2 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet.
- Office buildings and retail stores– 4 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet.
- Manufacturing facility– 3 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet.
- Places of assembly, including churches, theaters, auditorium–One space for every five (5) seats or one space for every forty (40) square feet of seating area where there are no fixed seats.
Real estate developers emphasize that zoning requirements are minimum requirements. Developers prefer to add more parking space than local zoning calls for.
An important element to consider in determining parking needs is the normal flow of traffic at the particular building. For example, at office buildings, traffic peaks at the employee arrival and departure times (8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.). But clients and visitors, who typically arrive later (10 a.m.) and leave earlier (3 p.m.), have to be able to find parking space within a reasonable distance from the building’s entrance.
Industrial buildings may operate with three shifts of workers. And, while visitor parking is usually not an important factor, the overlapping of arriving and departing employees requires careful consideration to calculate an adequate number of parking spaces.
Shopping centers have a more dispersed flow of customer traffic, with employee parking usually situated in a particular area at some distance from the main entrance to the stores. Parking spaces for handicapped persons are specifically designated and located near entrances, as required by law.
Rules for Handicap Parking
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accessible parking space dimensions must be at least 9 feet wide for standard vehicles and at least 11 feet wide for van-accessible spaces. Along with this, there must be an access aisle for both variations that is at least 5 feet wide.
Medical facilities, such as hospitals, with outpatient services should have 10% more accessible parking spaces for patients/visitors.
Rehabilitation centers or clinics that provide treatment or therapy for mobility-impaired or physical therapy patients should have an additional 20% more accessible parking spaces than the normal requirement.
The Older Buildings
Many older buildings (especially those built before World War II) once had ample parking. Over the years, this space either has been physically diminished through building additions or the sale of land, or is now just inadequate due to increased auto ownership and usage. To meet current demands for additional parking space at existing buildings, property owners should consider the following options:
- Narrow the parking spaces. For average parking spaces, the size tends to be around 7.5 to 9 feet in width and about 10 to 20 feet in length. In these days of compact and sub-compact automobiles, this can be done, says the experts, and increase the number of parking spaces by 15%. The cost: a few gallons of paint.
- Provide angle stalls. Eliminate right angle parking stalls and re-set them at a 65-degree angle. This maximizes the available parking space at a minimal changeover cost.
- Suggestion: Study the vehicles driven by your tenants, employees, and other regular parking space users. Designate special areas for compact cars around planters and landscape areas. Caution: Vehicle preferences do change. Compact and sub-compacts are a popular size but bigger vehicles are most common over smaller vehicles. For example, SUVs, vans and pick-up trucks are popular now. Unfortunately, they require larger parking spaces than some other automobiles.
- Create off-site parking. A satellite parking lot, with shuttle bus service, works well at airports and large amusement parks. The idea might also work well for shopping centers and apartment complexes.
- Add Rooftop Parking. This is possible at just a few locations.
- Reduce landscaped areas. Eliminate grass, shrubs, and flowers now decorating a parking lot. Determine whether paving these areas will increase the lot’s capacity.
- Construct a parking garage. Take a portion of the existing surface parking lot and construct a multi-floor parking garage. This not only provides an excellent long-term solution, but also adds value to the entire property. And there may be potential income from renting out extra spaces for use by nearby apartments or businesses.
If you can increase the parking ratio of your commercial real estate property by adding more parking spaces it can be seen as an investment that may improve the long-term occupancy rate.
But keep in mind higher parking ratios can be more desirable for potential tenants, but they also typically lead to higher common area maintenance fees (CAM). Always check your local zoning codes about your property, as zoning codes vary in different areas and states.