Paradise … or Parking Lot?

paradise“They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot.”

 That line from the 1970 song, “Big Yellow Taxi” lamented the trend of building parking lots in the midst of nature’s beauty, but soon “paradise” could see less concrete.

According to the Urban Land Institute’s “2016 Emerging Trends in Real Estate” report, one emerging trend is what writer Patrick Sisson dubs “Pulling Up Parking Lots.”

“As many younger American opt out of car ownership, and tech trends such as ride-sharing and autonomous cars begin to change transportation patterns, many urban planners, government officials, and real estate owners are questioning if parking lots are the best use of downtown real estate,” he writes. “Trends suggest that ‘existing parking represents a suboptimal use of land,’ and developers are asking how they can take advantage,” Sisson adds.

Another factor in the emerging trends, according to the Urban Land Institute (ULI), is what they call an “increasing investment in infrastructure.” The need for new mass transit, better roads and highways, and improved aviation and rail facilities hasn’t been met, ULI says, and it’s estimated that $3.6 trillion will be needed by 2020 to meet the backlog of much-needed repairs in the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.

All of the above, along with the need for new housing options and ideas are expected to help reverse the shrinkage in homeownership seen over the past eight years in the U.S. housing market. “Developing improved housing options for everyone, however, is passing from the realm of ‘nice to do’ to ‘must do,’” the ULI report concludes.

Business owners in all areas of the economy should study and respond to the shifting demographics of home ownership and other real estate concerns mentioned in the ULI report. It may portend what’s ahead as Baby Boomers retire and Millennials become the dominant economic market force in the next few years.