Fun fact that surprises no one: parking isn’t cheap in the DC Metro region. Compared to suburban locations that often have free and plentiful parking for drivers, space for development is at a premium in Arlington and the District. Instead of having an off-street surface parking lot taking up half a city block, developers and local jurisdictions would rather get the “highest and best use” out of the land, such as a mixed-use high rise office building or residential property. These types of uses, as opposed to a parking lot, provide an increased tax base to the jurisdiction and bring more people to the area, encouraging further economic development and better public spaces.
In most new urban developments, off-street parking is built underground, costing between $20,000 - $50,000 per space for construction alone. Adding on costs such as maintenance, management and equipment, providing parking is an extremely high cost for commercial property owners, and is often passed down to tenants. For office buildings, the cost for a monthly parking space in a high-density, transit-oriented area such as Rosslyn or Ballston typically ranges between $100 to $200 a month, which is paid for by either the employer or individual employees. With Arlington’s new commercial parking policy, new commercial buildings are required to provide less parking, potentially increasing demand and the cost to lease the spaces.
How can property owners, businesses and employees reduce their parking costs?
Property Owners & Managers
Many Arlington County commercial buildings have an abundance of available parking spaces in their buildings, leaving property owners and garage operators with a loss in revenue. However, owners and management can look into partnering with a local carshare company to reserve a certain number of parking spaces specifically for carshare vehicles. This would provide an added amenity to the building and help offset some of the operating costs.
Property owners can also convert open parking spaces into bike parking or a secure bike cage for tenants. One parking space can fit six to ten bicycles in a well-designed bike rack, providing plenty of room for bike riders in the building. Secure bike parking is also becoming an increasingly in-demand amenity in buildings, and nearly all new commercial properties within the last five years have installed these facilities.
For employers who provide free parking to employees, offering a transit benefit as an alternative to a parking space can help save on payroll taxes and allow employees to consider another way to get work.
Businesses can also encourage carpool/vanpool programs among employees. Many newer commercial buildings offer discounted or free parking for carpools/vanpools, and even those without, the company would only need to pay for one space for 2+ people, providing significant monthly savings. Companies can work with ATP to create density maps that show where employees live to see if there is a potential for rideshare. At larger companies, fun work events can be a great way to introduce and match up carpool/vanpool riders with each other.
If your building has bike parking and shower facilities, encourage bike commuting among employees, which is far less expensive than providing free parking. At $20 a month, employers can provide the IRS bike benefit for employees to use at bike stores or they can offer Capital Bikeshare memberships which costs as little as $12.50 per employee for the entire year.
Employees paying for parking can look into other options besides driving to reduce their monthly costs. Not only will leaving the car at home save money on parking, but can also reduce costs like gas and maintenance.
Take advantage of your company’s transit benefit, if one exists, or try biking to the office and get an extra workout during the day. Carpooling and vanpooling are also great ways to save money – if you’re worried about getting home in an emergency or working late, the Guaranteed Ride Home program helps alleviate those concerns for those who take transit, rideshare, bike or walk to work.
As Arlington’s transportation and commuting experts, ATP is here to help you figure out ways to improve your bottom line and presence in the community. By reducing costs associated with parking, property owners and businesses can shift their resources to programs that have a positive impact on larger goals such as growth, productivity and sustainability.