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 with a focus 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?
For real estate developers, the Uber/Parkmerced collaboration will be an important project to watch unfold. Once off the ground, Parkmerced and Uber plan to undertake 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.