As Austin’s downtown office market has grown by 1.2 million square feet since 2010, the parking supply has not been able to keep up with the needs of the city’s office tenants. While the new developments downtown have added to the city’s parking supply, office space trends focused on efficiency and increased density have made it difficult for companies to find enough parking for their employees.
The average parking ratio for downtown Austin’s office buildings is currently 2.53 spaces per 1,000 square feet, while prices range from $110 to $255 per month for unreserved garage spaces. The average cost of a parking space downtown this year is approximately $142 per month. As a result, many downtown companies are being forced to find alternative ways to address these issues.
RetailMeNot, which employs nearly 400 people at their downtown headquarters, was faced with finding parking for their growing staff after expanding their office space earlier this year. Upon contacting the parking garages of nearby buildings, they quickly realized that finding one location to park their entire staff downtown would not be easy. Sabrina Rodriguez of RetailMeNot mentioned that “It was nearly impossible to find in this area.” Currently, half of the staff parks in the 301 Congress Avenue garage and the other half is spread out between two other garages within a two block radius of the office. The company previously shuttled employees from the Austin American Statesman lot where they had contracted parking spaces.
To further alleviate the issue, RetailMeNot instituted a reimbursement plan for employees that use alternative means to commute to the office. “We’re continuing to offer reimbursements to all full time employees who choose to forfeit their parking spot and use public transportation or bike to work instead.” Sabrina further explained that they “have about 75 employees currently using that program.”
TrendKite, a growing PR analytics company headquartered downtown, doesn’t have any spaces in their building’s garage. They contract with several parking lots surrounding their office as well. Approximately a third of their 140 employees use alternate commute methods including rail, bus, bike, or foot. Jen Cantu, VP of People, and Russ Somers, VP of Marketing, mentioned many of the employees that use alternate methods live downtown and are part of a growing community of individuals who don’t commute by car. TrendKite also offers a healthy reimbursement allowance for employees that don’t require a parking space and has access to the building’s bike lockers.
Another creative parking solution that many companies, employees, and landlords are adopting is Luxe, an on-demand valet parking service. The San Francisco based group partners with major parking operators locally to fill vacancy in lots and primarily services corporate tech users and professional services firms. Open the app, drive into the nearest “drop off zone,” let Luxe park your car and request it back through the app when you’re ready to leave. Luxe is currently parking hundreds of cars daily in the CBD and over 4,000 parks monthly through individual users as well as several enterprise clients.
While future office developments in downtown Austin, such as Third + Shoal and 405 Colorado will add to the parking supply, office tenants will still be faced with limited parking. The City of Austin has placed its focus on public and mass transit in order to address transportation infrastructure concerns. This coming November Austin voters will decide on another Mobility Bond – Austin’s second largest transportation bond totaling $720 million. Projects along major corridors resulting from the bond’s passage would entail added sidewalks, bike lanes, turn lanes and drainage improvements among other design features to promote alternative commute methods and improved traffic flow.
In the meantime, Austin employers should continue to explore and promote alternative commute and parking options to help alleviate the issues that we all experience. Does your company have any innovative transportation solutions in place? If so, Avison Young and RealMassive would love to hear about your company’s ideas in the comments below.