There’s a new downtown Dallas construction boom, but it won’t add more office space or residential units.
Instead, developers and building owners are creating thousands of parking spaces in the central business district.
The garage additions to 1980s office towers are meant to make the buildings competitive with newer projects that have more parking.
“The world has changed since a lot of downtown Dallas was built in the 1980s,” said Phil Puckett, executive vice president of commercial real estate firm CBRE. “Downtown building owners recognize that in order to attract new tenants, they are going to need more parking.”
Puckett said most of the 1980s skyscrapers downtown were built with about one parking space per 1,000 square feet of office space. New buildings in Uptown and the suburbs have three or more.
And businesses in downtown towers are making the workspaces more densely populated, another strain on parking.
“Parking in the office leasing world is absolutely critical,” Puckett said. “We are going through parking issues with a client right now in the core of downtown.
“If we are going to see more business activity downtown, we are going to have to have more parking.”
Developers are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on parking projects.
The owner of downtown’s landmark Fountain Place tower on Ross Avenue is building a more than $40 million, 10-story garage on the east side of the skyscraper that will add 1,500 spaces and 8,000 to 10,000 square feet of restaurant space. The project will more than double the parking at the 1.2 million-square-foot high-rise.
At its 50-story Trammell Crow Center a few blocks away at Ross Avenue and Olive Street, owner JPMorgan Asset Management plans to add a building with almost 2,600 parking spaces.
The project will also include a hotel, apartment tower and retail space.
Construction on the project will start early next year.
“We are progressing through our design of the project,” said Ramsey March of Stream Realty Partners, which will develop the building for JPMorgan. “When they first bought the block, it was because of the need for parking, but then we took a step back.
“We view this as a catalytic project for Ross Avenue,” March said. “We view the development of this site as a bridge between Ross Avenue and the rest of the central business district.”
March said the new garage will give the Trammell Crow Center’s office tenants the same parking as the newest towers in Uptown.
HQ hinged on spots
Adding parking helped one downtown tower land a company that was moving its headquarters from California.
Pasadena-based Jacobs Engineering Group will move its head office and more than 100 jobs to the Harwood Center tower on Bryan Street. The international engineering firm already has more than 300 workers in the high-rise.
Fortis Property Group, which owns the 34-story tower, has filed building permits to build a garage around the corner from Harwood Center at St. Paul and Federal Street.
The garage will help accommodate Jacobs’ workers and other tenants in the high-rise.
“Many companies today require greater parking numbers for their teams than what is available in many existing office buildings,” said architect Barry Hand, in the Dallas office of Gensler. “For many companies, pushing office staff to surface parking lots is less attractive than more secure and closer structured parking.
Even downtown’s tallest tower, the 72-story Bank of America Plaza, is gearing up for a garage addition.
Bank of America Plaza’s owners are planning a 15-story, 1,500-car parking garage two blocks from the tower on Main Street. The $22 million garage will connect to the skyscraper’s existing garage at Lamar and Main.
John Crawford of the economic development group Downtown Dallas Inc. says building parking garages is critical to keeping the central business district in the race for office tenants.
“It’s a very important part of the competitive office market we have to respond to,” Crawford said.
With new construction and the addition of several parks, the number of surface parking lots downtown is declining, he said. And mass transit and other options don’t meet all the needs of businesses.
“A lot of people say we don’t need any more parking garages because we are more urban,” Crawford said. “We still have a major requirement for parking, and that’s going to be the way it is for a good while.
“Even with DART and more people biking and ride sharing and everything else, we are going to need more parking for years to come.”
By: Steve Brown
SOURCE: Dallas Morning News – Commercial Real Estate