Are Suburban Office Parking Ratios on the Rise?

By: Robert T. Dunphy

About a third of the suburban office developers responding to a recent NAIOP survey have already added parking to existing properties; even more expect parking ratios to rise in the future.

HOW MUCH PARKING do suburban office tenants need today, and how much will they need in the future? When “The Suburban Office Parking Conundrum” (Development magazine, fall 2016) explored this issue, expert opinions varied. NAIOP therefore decided to ask members about their recent experiences with suburban parking and likely future trends. From Oct. 6 to 13, 2016, NAIOP conducted two surveys that asked suburban office developers as well as architects and engineers from throughout the U.S. about those experiences.

Focusing on previous trends, nine out of 10 developers who responded indicated that a range of 3.5 to 4.5 parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of office space has been adequate for leasing over the past decade:

  • The most common parking ratio (46 percent) previously used by occupiers was 4.0/1,000.
  • Roughly equal numbers (20 and 24 percent, respectively) reported using less, at 3.5/1,000, or more, at 4.5/1,000.
  • A mere 10 percent of developers indicated that tenants need even less parking, typically 3.0/1,000.

While the 3.5 to 4.5/1,000 ratio has worked in the past, respondents indicated that tenants have been asking for more parking recently.

Nearly 90 percent of developers reported that, within the past 24 months, at least half of all prospective tenants were requesting ratios of more than 4.0/1,000:

  • The most common “ask” (40 percent) was for 5.0/1,000.
  • Twenty-three percent of developers said potential tenants wanted 6.0/1,000.
  • Eight percent said prospective tenants would settle for 5.5/1,000.
  • A small share of developers (3.5 percent) said potential users were looking for even more parking: 6.5/1,000.

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