Employee Parking Impacted by Multifamily and Student Housing Developments

Key Takeaways

  • Columbia, South Carolina’s vacancy rate for parking garages in the Central Business District (CBD) continued to decline during 2016 to 15.0% from 21.5% at midyear 2015.
  • As the office, retail, multifamily and student housing markets continue to strengthen, new retailers, employers, and residents may struggle to find convenient parking exemplifying the need for additional downtown parking.

Downtown Parking Conditions

A challenge facing any employers, employees, as well as retailers and visitors to the CBD, is available parking. Parking availability has fallen to record lows for downtown parking garages to 15.0%. The vacancy rate for privately owned parking garages decreased from 21.7% at mid-year 2015 to 9.9% at mid-year 2016 whereas vacancy in publicly owned garages increased from 21.1% to 22.3% over the same time frame. Similarly, the average hourly rate for parking spaces in private garages is $1.66, up from $1.50 a year ago. The hourly rate for public garages has remained steady at $1.00 over the past three years. The monthly rate for reserved spaces varies depending on location of the garage and the location of the parking space in the garage. Private garages have seen an uptick in the monthly rate ranging from $65.00 to $150.00 with a median rate of $95.00, whereas the range was $40.00 to $135.00 with a median rate of $85.00 a year ago. With only 1,760 available spaces in downtown parking garages, residents, employees and visitors to Columbia’s downtown will continue to find fewer parking options.

Over the last year, a strengthening economy and the delivery of several student housing and multifamily developments have attracted new residents to downtown Columbia. An unprecedented population boom is underway in downtown Columbia driven by residential developments directed at students and young professionals. In August of 2015, 224 market rate apartment units and 1,992 beds of student housing were delivered in downtown Columbia. This summer, another 524 market rate units and 1,530 beds will be delivered. The four established retail clusters (The Vista, Main Street, Five Points and Devine Street) are all seeing increased interest, higher occupancy and rental rates and new infill development.

These developments will add nearly 5,000 new residents to the CBD and radically reshape the downtown environment. As a result office tenants are competing with new residents and the retail boom. In order to support future growth new parking facilities will become a necessity or the growth will disappear and existing businesses may move out of the city center.

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