Monthly parking rates for garages in Columbia’s Central Business District declined slightly from mid-year 2008 to mid-year 2009.  As the local office market began to mirror signs of the national economy, posting negative absorption for the first time since the start of the national recession, the median rate for unreserved parking spaces declined from $68.00 per month to $65.00 per month.  The office market in downtown Columbia experienced a slight decline in occupancy from 87.39% at mid-year 2008 to 86.4% at mid-year 2009; recessionary conditions further substantiated a 4.6% decline in monthly parking rates due to the desire of office users to reduce operating expenses where possible.  Tenants are now looking for landlords to include whole or partial parking expenses in leases or renewals.

Daily parking rates, which remain more a function of consumer spending, increased from 9.38% at mid-year 2008 to $10.00 at mid-year 2009.  Although the local economy and retail spending remain in question, this 6.6% increase showcases that the demand for daily parking remains strong.  This underscores the strong ties Columbia residents have to convenient access to their cars. 

At mid-year 2009, the City of Columbia announced plans to move forward with the construction of an additional parking garage along the Main Street corridor.  A city-approved parking study of the area recommended a site owned by First Baptist Church at the corner of Washington and Sumter Streets for the construction of a new facility.  The proposed 395-space garage has an anticipated cost of $9.6 million, and would provide additional parking for area tenants, non-profits and First Baptist Church. 

Nationally, the median monthly parking rate was $154.23 per month at mid-year 2009, which represents a 0.9% decrease from twelve months prior.  The median daily rate increased by 1.2% to $15.96 at mid-year 2009.  The most expensive district in the U.S. at mid-year 2009 was Midtown Manhattan with a median rate of $550 (down 6.3%); the least expensive district was Bakersfield, CA with a median rate of $40 per month (unchanged).  On an international level, London remained the most expensive city in the world to park a car at mid-year 2009, with a monthly rate of $1,020.

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