Parking Availability Tightens as Office Market Strengthens

Key Takeaways

  • Columbia, South Carolina’s vacancy rate for parking garages in the Central Business District (CBD) continued to decline during 2015 with limited parking spaces available near Main Street’s office towers.
  • As the office market continues to tighten, new tenants may struggle to find convenient parking for employees.
  • Proposed housing developments will create a greater need for additional downtown parking.

CBD Parking Conditions

The vacancy rate for parking garages in Columbia’s CBD has been trending downwards over recent years and was 22.9% at mid-year 2015, down from 29.0% the previous year and 33.3% in 2013.  These declines in vacancy represent significant shifts in the availability of spaces.  The CBD parking inventory consists of approximately 11,283 parking spaces in 18 parking garages.   With only 2,587 parking spaces available, downtown employees and visitors are finding limited options for parking.  Of the available spaces, 80% are located in garages that do not support office towers, adding greater pressure on Main Street office and retail tenants, which are finding themselves competing for parking.  Additionally, as companies look to more efficiently utilize office space, employees are densifying space with less square footage resulting in a greater demand for parking than before.  The declining vacancy closely mirrors tightening office market conditions.  As of mid-year 2015, the office market vacancy rate was 10.5% for the CBD, down from 11.1% the previous year.  

Concurrent to tightening office market conditions, a proposed apartment building atop the city-owned Lady Street parking garage along with other residential developments will bring extra competition among parking tenants.  The City of Columbia recently signed an agreement that will allow the developer to lease 425 parking spaces in the Lady Street and Washington Street parking garages for tenants of the 20-story, 275-unit apartment tower.

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