Trending: Parking-garage condos in New York City

March 21, 2014 | 0 Comments
parking garage

Your next luxury flat? From AEO Auch.

In a metropolis that simultaneously houses residents in abandoned subway tunnels while selling gift-wrapped mansions at price tags north of $100 million, it should surprise no one that old parking garages are now the thing in New York City. Prewar garages are being turned from grease-stained warehouses for cars to glitzy homes for eco-minded celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the first to visit a Greenwich Village triplex under construction atop an eight-story former Hertz garage that’s being converted to condos.

The development team of DHA Capital and Continental Properties are behind that particular project, but they’re by no means the only developers adapting parking garages into living spaces. Rigby Asset Management is currently at work on a similar conversion in Greenwich Village after enjoying success in 2003 in SoHo, where the façade of a garage was kept intact while the interior was gutted for residential use. Recent parking-garage condo conversions from Flank and Gale International have entered the market, accelerating the trend.

It’s hard to imagine how the low ceilings, sloped floors, and generally underlit environments of parking garages could be transformed into condos that command prices between $6 million and $35 million, but developers are looking at prewar garages, not more modern versions. Architects in the 1920s were still unsure how prevalent cars would be, and while their dominance was rising unquestionably at the time, architects hedged their bets and designed garages that could be easily adapted to other uses.

Today there are offices and warehouses and—now—condos that once were parking garages. They’re distinguished from their modern-day counterparts by their flat floors, generous floor-to-ceiling heights, building widths, and impressive loading capacity or the ability to support other structural uses.

“It’s very hard to find a 67-foot-wide building,” Steven Fisch of Continental Properties told the press. “Buyers are going to walk into a 67-foot living room with huge windows along the whole length. It beats any loft in SoHo.”

There are other perks to redeveloping parking garages. Said Leonard Steinberg, a broker with Douglas Elliman, “To vacate them takes just a set of car keys rather than millions in legal fees and payments to move out tenants.”

Then there are, of course, the parking spots themselves. By retaining a portion of the site at 224 Mulberry in Nolita as a garage—preserving its “existing use” in zoning-ordinance parlance—Flank could offer residents parking on site. Indeed, buyers of each of the development’s seven units will be allotted two parking spaces apiece.

Developers constructing new buildings, however, would be accorded just one spot for every three units or so, as mandated by the zoning code’s parking maximums.

Developers’ renewed interest in prewar parking garages has architects reconsidering the designs of parking garages being built today. Informed by statistics showing lower numbers of auto-buying coupled with a rising trend in car-sharing businesses, as well as other factors such as higher gas prices, improved public transit, better technology. and an increasing clustering of people in urban areas, architects believe society will need fewer parking garages.

As a result, designers have begun to advocate for more thoughtful parking-garage construction. “If we’re going to build these,” said Tom Fisher, dean of the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, “ let’s design them in a way that they can have alternative uses in the future. With just a few tweaks, that’s really possible.”

Developers have been receptive to his suggestions, said Fisher. Being able to adapt a building rather than demolish it saves developers time and money, as well as the environmental headaches caused by material waste. “They’re worried about building parking garages that don’t really have a long-term use,” he said.

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Category: Green Parking, Regulations