Build it and then Tear it down — Good Decision


Build it and then Tear it down — Good Decision

Rick Seibert, parking guru at the city of Charlottesville, VA, reached out to the parking community and asked advice on building a new garage. He had attended seminar after seminar telling him to design garages so they could be converted to other uses when autonomous vehicles took over and parking went the way of the buggy whip.

He got a lot of advice including listings of articles extolling the virtues of convertible garages and folks absolutely certain that autonomous vehicles were just around the corner. Much of the advice was sage, but one stood out:

In the studies that we’ve done, with cost estimates that we’ve received, and in example projects that we’ve started with developers and institutional clients, the added cost to make a “convertible garage” was never found to be justified….the less costly options are to either (1) provide an expansion joint so that you can demolish a portion of the garage and create a building pad for new development, or (2) build a simple garage now and demolish completely. Our studies have shown that a garage that includes the premiums to “provide the flexibility for the future” are more expensive than a simple garage and these demolition costs. (Michael App, Tim Haas and Associates)

Since we cannot see the future, and most predictions are only guesses and we have no clue what the garage might be used for 10, 20 or 30 years from now, Michael’s approach seems the most sage.

So what did Rick and the City moms and pops decide:

The City has come to the conclusion that the best course of action is to build a basic garage to meet the current needs.  In the future if demand changes significantly downward:
1.  An existing older garage may need to be torn down and constructed in its place something that meets the new highest and best use of the property, or
2.  Demolish the new garage and construct something different that again meets the new highest and best use of the property.
It was simply decided that either of these alternatives were more cost effective than trying to guess the future best use of the property and building to try to accommodate that in a convertible facility.

That makes sense. Good Job.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. This approach of building by and tearing down may fly for private investors for the next five years or so, but driverless cars is expected to begin to substantially dampen demand for parking by 2030 or so. Look for public parking projects with lower discount rates to build convertible structures, partly so they don’t have to explain wasteful destruction to taxpayers.

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