Uber and San Francisco Real Estate Company to Wean Residents Off Cars
For folks who find living and parking in D.C. to be a struggle, a first-of-its-kind collaboration in urban living might be a sign of change toward more transit-oriented housing developments in cities.
Uber and Parkmerced bridge people to car-free living
Last May, the Smartphone ride-hailing service Uber entered into an exclusive partnership with San Francisco’s sprawling housing complex Parkmerced, which is owned by Maximus Real Estate Partners on a program that will pay residents to live car-free.
Parkmerced will offer new tenants a $100 per month transit- and ride-subsidy to use with Uber and Bay Area public transit. The subsidy will last for the duration of a lease, or up to two years.
As part of the program, residents must use at least $30 of the subsidy toward Uber rides, with the remaining $70 auto-loaded to a Clipper Card, which can be used on nearly all of the Bay Area’s transit systems. Uber’s ride-sharing service, uberPOOL, will be capped at $5 to the nearest public transit station.
Less emphasis on cars and parking
Parkmerced, located south of San Francisco State University, was built in the 1940s, focusing on giving residents plenty of parking. The 152-acre complex currently has more than 3,000 rental apartments in 11 residential towers and covers several blocks of garden townhouses.
In 2011, the city approved a 20-year development plan calling for less parking and more transit. With a new focus on fewer parking spaces, Parkmerced plans to use the space to construct new buildings, ranging from 14-story cylindrical towers to five-story buildings. The new structures will add 5,700 rental units and retail and office spaces and be accessible to buses and trains.
Maximus Real Estate Partners hopes Parkmerced will establish a sustainable, car-free multi-family housing model for urban developments that will also boost public-transit ridership.
“The immediate benefits to residents will be to decrease or eliminate the need for private car ownership, facilitate a more efficient commute, reduce transportation costs, and minimize the need for parking,” Rob Rosania, founder of Maximus Real Estate Partners, said in a statement.
In a blog post, Uber said the new ride-sharing agreement with Maximus Real Estate “exemplifies the creative ways in which Uber can make it possible for city dwellers to live car-free and connect the transportation network.”
The company also cites a recent report released by the American Public Transportation Association, which recommended better connections between public transit and transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft.
Advantages of car-free living
The Uber/Parkmerced model might have several advantages for city dwellers, such as
– Encouraging biking and walking
– Reducing traffic in neighborhoods
– Reducing noise pollution
– Adding green spaces due to fewer parking spaces
There could be strong financial advantages for developers:
– Since costs grow with every floor a developer needs to dig for underground parking, fewer parking spots means less digging—and more cost savings.
– Fewer outdoor parking spots means more land to develop.
– Car-sharing programs like Zipcar tend to pay developers more money than a tenant to house a car in a building.
Is paying tenants not to drive good news for landlords?
The Uber/Parkmerced collaboration will be an important project to watch unfold for real estate developers. Once off the ground, Parkmerced and Uber plan to research to determine real-world data related to cost-savings associated with their car-free living program.
And with the growing popularity of Uber in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, transit-oriented housing developments could become a future opportunity for real estate landlords.