I spent this morning with a major developer in Dallas. He supervised building projects across the south, but focused on Georgia and Texas. We were standing in a million square foot project he had just taken over and was ‘upgrading.’ The building was 30 years old.
They were in the process of adding a 1000 plus space underground garage in the surface lot adjacent to the building — it would have retail on the top floor (ground) level and the garage under ground, connected to the garage in the office tower. He said that it would bring parking to 2 spaces for 1000 square feet, rather than the .8 that existed today.
He brushed this off as something his company does all the time. “It makes our buildings more attractive and easier to lease. ‘
I spend a lot of time talking to parking folks on the coasts, and also those who work for universities and municipalities. To a person, they talk of reducing parking, removing parking, setting parking maximums, and the evils of the demon car.
This developer was spending millions to make his facility more attractive to car owners, not fussing about how to set up ride sharing programs and make his building ‘transit friendly.’
I don’t think this is a unique case. I”ll bet if we researched developers who played in “flyover country” we would find many like my friend in Dallas. Is he flying in the face of reality, or using experience to understand how to appeal to a broad sector of the public?
Granted Texas and Georgia and the south in general are culturally light years different from the upper east side or that tony area west of the 405 or around Menlo Park, but I find it refreshing that building owners can look to their customers and meet their needs, not the needs of planners, politicians, and university pundits.
In Texas they drive big vehicles. Some of the pickups I saw in this fellow’s garage could barely get down the ramps. They like their cars and like the freedom they bring.
I feel a bit sad for the young people in LA, New York, or Chicago who are ‘moving back down town’ so they can walk to everything they need in life. I think about the young folks in Texas and Georgia driving their muscle cars and hitting the open road. Which group will be the innovators and leaders of the next generation?
Consider this: Developers like my Dallas friend don’t spend money lightly. They don’t upgrade or increase parking space just for the fun of it. They expect to get a substantial return on their investment. The question is, “Do these chaps know something we smart educated guys on the coasts don’t know?”