July 2, 2020 Housing Action Coalition

Parkade: Bringing Parking Into The Future

Evan Goldin and his team at Parkade are bringing parking into the 21st century, and helping developers, cities, residents and employees in the process.

Evan and his founding team were some of the earliest employees at Lyft and Getaround. They’re using technology to bring a similar kind of technological transformation to parking that their founding team brought to ridesharing and carsharing in the 2010s. Their success could very well change how parking is constructed, how much parking is constructed and how parking is used once built.

We recently asked Evan about his path, and what lies ahead for his company, their partner buildings and their developer partners.

What’s the state of parking today?

Parking to me, and to most people, looks a lot like it has for the last half century. The iPhone came out in 2007, and 13 years later, we can use our phone to get a driver to pick us up outside our door in 2 minutes, get dinner delivered in 15 minutes and remotely unlock and then drive a stranger’s car parked on the street.

But when people drive places, it’s still 1995 to park. 

We have no idea precisely where we’ll park, or how long we’ll look for a spot. That’s true when most people go visit a friend’s home, park at work or go shopping. Maybe we’ll pay for parking on our phone if we’re lucky, but not much has changed. As a result, the solution for most real estate developers and cities to make sure there’s a good parking experience is to just massively oversupply parking. That’s a hugely expensive solution, and it translates to higher apartment rents, less space for housing, retail and offices, because the costs are passed on to tenants or the city. That’s the reason we have 8 parking spots for every car in America today, and it’s a problem screaming for a solution.

Most of the innovation in the parking space has been in three categories: 1) Better hardware, to help improve parking experience in large commercial garages and give them better data 2) Hugely expensive parking solutions like stackers that allow more cars to be parked per square foot, but are prohibitively expensive 3) Aggregation apps that allow parkers to book/pay ahead when parking in urban garages (SpotHero, etc).

Aside from stackers and unbundling of parking (renting parking separately from renting an apartment), there’s been almost no innovation in residential parking, and we felt that developers and their residents are craving a better solution.

Does COVID-19 affect any of this? 

It sure does! With COVID, parking and car ownership habits have drastically changed for many. 

Pre-COVID, working from home was still extremely rare. Fewer than 4 million Americans permanently worked from home in 2019. Now, suddenly, the vast majority of white-collar workers are working from home — and many may keep this practice up for some time, if not indefinitely. 

That means they’re not driving to work anymore, which is the primary reason many Americans own a vehicle. As workers change their commute habits, many may revisit their parking preferences as well. 

For some, like apartment dwellers who were parking on the street, this may increase desire to find a long-term parking spot indoors, where they don’t need to move their car. Maybe that wasn’t a problem when they used their car every day, but it’s problematic now that they rarely use their car.

Others may get rid of their car completely, yet their apartment may bundle an assigned parking spot with their rent. And they’ll have no idea what to do with their spot. 

Essentially, parking needs are changing quickly in multi-family, and real-estate owners need to improve their parking offerings. 

So, what’s your solution to this?

Our vision is for parking to be available in every residential building and commercial, at the tap of a button, for any length of time.

After experimenting with parking at Lyft HQ, we realized that so many parking spots sit empty simply because it’s hard for people to share parking spots. Parkade solves that.

It’s a lot of things, but first and foremost, it’s a way for building tenants to get parking in their building. Most residential buildings just assign parking with their units, and perhaps have a few spots labeled “Visitor parking” — and then leave it at that. 

Parkade reimagines how parking can work in residential buildings, and makes it super easy for residents who join their building’s Parkade to share or rent parking in their building. 

This means a building can use our app to rent out their unbundled parking, so that tenants can rent spots for any time period — not just monthly — without going to their leasing office. That saves staff time and eliminates a germ transmission vector. And it means that a tenant with a spot (whether they paid for it separately or with their unit) can easily share it with another resident when they’re out of town, or permanently if they don’t own a car.

Every tenant in the building can rent a spot in their building, either short-term or monthly, instantly from their phone. They can also share their own spot. And property managers, one of Parkade’s biggest fans, can hand over all their parking assignment duties to us (if they want — that’s optional). 

Interesting. So a tenant has more reason to give up their car? How does the developer or building owner benefit from tenants sharing with each other? 

We want to “put a price” on your parking spot, even if you’re not paying for it. If a resident knows they can make $100/mo renting their spot out, they’ll be quicker to get rid of their car — which means the building can get by with fewer parking spots. 

Residential developers love Parkade because they’re able to better retain tenants, charge more in rent and earn revenue via a revenue share we offer back to the building owner (if they want). 

Even more important for developers: Parking data. If the building makes Parkade the only way to get a parking spot short-term or monthly in their building, we can track all parking utilization with zero expensive hardware. 

At an example building, we may find that a building’s parking is used, say, 56% of the time on average. The next time they’re constructing a similar building, we can arm them with that data when they go for planning approvals, to help win a reduction in parking requirements.

That’s a massive win, and could save tens of millions of dollars at a single development.

We want to work hand-in-hand to help them build less parking up front. Using Parkade can easily bring your parking utilization up by double digit percentages, which means you should be able to build less parking overall. And 

And they’re also able to park some of those “overflow” cars that usually anger neighbors inside their buildings I assume? 

Exactly! When the concerned neighbor down the street from your next project asks the planning commission where your overflow parking will go — you’ll be able to tell them, “There won’t be overflow. It’ll go inside the building, thanks to Parkade.”

That’s because visitor parking becomes far, far easier with Parkade, so building visitors aren’t parking in front of neighbors’ homes anymore.

Visitor parking is usually a mess, because everyone abuses a spot when it says “Visitor parking” — I’ve found multiple apartment buildings where residents from OTHER buildings were using, er, abusing the building’s visitor parking. 

Instead, using Parkade for visitor parking means they can completely get rid of all “Visitor parking” signs, as one of our most successful buildings did. That results in far, far less parking abuse, because people are less likely to park in a spot they think belongs to a specific person. At the same time, Parkade allows any resident’s spot to be used to park a visitor’s car — vastly increasing guest parking capacity.

With Parkade, every spot in the lot is rentable by residents, for any period of time. That could be a communal EV parking spot they want to share, an unbundled spot or a spot that a resident isn’t using while they’re on vacation.

And the building management gets to sit back and relax, and get out of the business of dealing with assigning spots long-term or for guests. They just set up their spots once, add residents to the app and it just kind of runs itself.

Does this pose any security threats to the building?

To be totally clear, our app does NOT invite strangers to the buildings. Parkade is secure. We get that confusion a lot, and it’s understandable because everyone hears “parking app” and just assumes we’re selling your spots to strangers.

We’re not.

These spots are only made available to residents and staff, who can then have their own trusted visitors park in them, just as they may do today. We don’t open the gate, so security and garage access will function the same — we just help residents know where to park their car, or their guest’s car.

This sounds pretty handy for a developer or building in a parking constrained neighborhood. How expensive is it? 

It isn’t expensive. It’s free! Parkade’s pricing is simple: Like Airbnb or Lyft, we just take a small cut of any paid transaction on the platform. Plus we share that revenue back to the building if they want. 

You actually make buildings money? I’m sure developers will be delighted to hear that. 

That’s right. On top of the fact that we’ll hopefully save them a lot of money by building less parking in their future buildings.

What kind of buildings are best for Parkade? 

Good question. Not every building needs Parkade. But those that do have some common characters:

  1. Assigned, numbered parking (or the desire to offer some)
  2. Limited parking in the neighborhood
  3. Relatively simple and equal parking setups. Meaning that any spot could be accessed by any resident. Townhomes, each with their own parking garage door, would not mesh well for example.

What about mixed-use buildings?

Ah, good question. Mixed-use buildings are really ideal for Parkade. We see a lot of mixed-use where they build, say, 100 parking spots for residential units and 100 spots for commercial tenants. Then, those tenants have polar opposite parking needs — so it’s a huge waste of money to build them separate parking.

Instead, a building could easily use Parkade to have tenants share parking at a mixed-use building.

At our existing partner buildings, we’ve totally transformed how people use parking and created significant new revenue streams for these buildings. Readers should definitely check out the Parkade case studies. The results speak to the power of making it easy to share parking in building through our app. 

What’s in store for Parkade for the second half of this year? 

In the immediate future, we’re onboarding more and more apartments and condos onto the platform and partnering with more residential real estate companies. We’re also seeing a lot of interest in using Parkade at commercial buildings, which traditionally have shied away from assigned parking. 

Post-COVID, that’s changing quickly as buildings see a surge in parking demand, yet a lot of variability in schedules as well. There’s a huge desire to offer reliable parking, to better balance parking spots between multiple office tenants and, perhaps, to charge employees for the perk as well.

We’re looking forward to announcing our first workplace parking partners soon.

How should developers get in touch with you? 

Just write us a note at hello@parkade.com or visit the Get Started page. We’d love to talk!

Housing Action Coalition

The Housing Action Coalition is a member-supported non-profit that advocates for the creation of well designed, well-located housing at all levels of affordability. We believe more housing means more choices and better solutions.

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