Level vs. Pitched Parking Ramp Floors

[Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, and do not represent Edina Realty, Berkshire Hathaway (“Berkshire”), or any other entity referenced. Edina Realty is a subsidiary of Berkshire.]

I knew that rental apartments could be converted into condos.

But, I didn’t know that parking ramps could be converted into commercial or residential buildings.

Apparently, they can — but only if they have level, not angled floors.

That’s according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who spoke at a breakfast this morning to about 100 Edina Realty agents, who live and/or work in the city (I do both).

“Breakfast With (Edina Realty) Realtors”

Parking lot design came up in the context of “Minneapolis 2040,” a long-term planning blueprint — in its final approval stages now — calling for three things in the coming decades: 1) increased city density; 2) more diverse housing; and 3) more affordable housing.**

Practically, that means supplementing Minneapolis’ now-predominantly single-family housing stock with a mix of multi-family housing (4-unit or more rental apartments and condo buildings), duplexes, triplexes, and accessory dwelling units (also known as “granny flats”).

Parking Supply & (Shrinking?) Demand

Where will all those new city residents find parking?

Mayor Frey acknowledged the issue, but wasn’t overly concerned.

After noting that Minneapolis’ population was significantly higher in the 1950’s(!), he observed that many urban Millennials now eschew car ownership in favor of public transportation, “sharing” services such as Uber or Lyft, or simply walking or biking (presumably, just not when the wind chill is minus 50° below — like last week).

Repurposed Ramps

Longer term, Mayor Frey speculated that tight parking in especially popular neighborhoods like Uptown would be relieved by the widespread adoption of autonomous (self-driving) cars, which in theory never have to park (at least, not in the most crowded areas).

If he’s right, that would mean a lot of obsolete parking ramps.

Ahh, but if those parking ramps are built with level floors — Voila! — they can be converted into things like residential lofts or office buildings.

Smart . . .

*Mayor Frey also cited the need for more “deeply” affordable housing. To Realtors like myself, however, that simply calls to mind other adjectives — like “blighted,” “neglected,” or “dilapidated.”

See also, “Will “Minneapolis 2040” Turn the City Into Houston? Or Maybe Mumbai?

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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