One-Car Garage Comeback?

Just as some fashions — think, wide lapels and narrow ties — can come back into vogue if you wait long enough, home features forrmerly thought of as out-of-fashion (if not obsolete) may be ripe for a revival. Topping the list? One-car garages, at least in city neighborhoods.

Up until now, of course, the trend has been the other way. Three-car garages are considered standard in upscale suburbs, while a two-car garage in the city — let alone one — is still considered a sacrifice.

That may change with $4 gas. Now that monster SUV’s have become white elephants virtually overnight, “SUV houses” — too big, too far, with their inefficient use of space and energy — may be due for a reconsideration as well.

First you drive the SUV less and less, then, you eventually sell it. After awhile, you no longer need a house that was seemingly designed around one. Just as the space formerly taken up by Living Room’s got re-absorbed by “Great Room’s,” something new may very well succeed the 3-car garage.

Urban Retrofit

Meanwhile, homes in close-in city neighborhoods built before the advent of urban sprawl — think Linden Hills, Longfellow, Kenwood — suddenly look more inviting. Constructed between 1900 and 1940, they feature crown moldings, built-in’s, hardwood floors, and other sought-after period details. Thanks to the billions Americans have spent on remodeling, many of these same homes also now feature more open floor plans (not to mention new Kitchens, updated mechanicals, energy-efficient windows, etc.)

The reaction to expensive gas may be less pronounced in the city than the suburbs, but there is still an adjustment taking place. Anecdotally, there are signs that city dwellers may be migrating towards a pattern of using public transportation during the work week, then using a car — one car — for weekend outings and errands. Suddenly, anything more than a single-car garage looks like wasted space.

Unfortunately, individual citizens can’t build a truly modern, public transportation system any more than they could muster a military. That’s a job for government. Hopefully, the Twin Cities will join the growing list of metropolitan areas — Denver, Atlanta, Portland, to name a few — that are making the requisite investment.

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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