The Parking Advisors team has provided parking investment advisory services throughout DC and northern Virginia. The team is recognized for having Washington DC’s leading parking consultants. We’ve consulted on projects in many of the District’s neighborhoods including Downtown, Dupont Circle, Penn Quarter and District Wharf, as well as the metro area’s major submarkets including Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax.
Washington DC’s Leading Parking Consultants
Parking Advisors is a national parking consulting firm with extensive experience in Washington, DC, Virginia and the surrounding metro area.
Parking Supply and Demand Fundamentals
Due to the height restriction on commercial and residential buildings within Washington DC, the city’s parking supply is somewhat limited and dispersed compared to other large US cities. As a result, garages tend to be relatively small, underground and typically serve the occupants of the buildings under which they are built. Additionally, many garages offer full or partial valet services to maximize garage capacity.
Peak parking demand generally occurs on weekdays between 10 am and 2 pm, when office tenant utilization is at its maximum. Conventions and other large events have a significant impact on parking activity across Washington D.C. Some submarkets benefit from significant nightlife and event parking demand, but others experience very little night and weekend demand. As a result, many garages in these submarkets close at night and on weekends. As one of the nation’s most popular tourist destinations, garages in DC located in close proximity to historic sites and popular attractions typically attract significant transient traffic as well.
DC’s Public Transportation Network
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) is the 3rd largest heavy rail transit system and 6th largest bus network in the US. With 54% of the region’s jobs within a half-mile radius of all Metro stations and Metrobus stops, the transit network is a viable option for many of the metropolitan area’s residents. However, despite the network’s reach, commuting by vehicle is still common within the District and is more significant in submarkets with favorable parking supply and demand characteristics.
DC has two main public transit modes:
- Metrorail – The Metrorail lines provide service to 91 active stations on 117 miles of track.
- Metrobus – The Metrobus operates 24/7 with 1,648 buses that provide service to 10,687 active bus stops.
As the center of the Federal Government, Washington DC, northern Virginia and Maryland have a high concentration of General Services Administration (GSA) tenants within its commercial offices. Depending upon the location of the property and the specific agency housed in the space, GSA employees’ commuting patterns vary from building to building. GSA employees tend to utilize their parking during the middle of the week and utilize their parking very little on weekends and on holidays. Since many GSA office leases have fixed, must take parking clauses, these GSA tenants can generate a reliable and unchanging revenue stream for landlords.
Many parking garages in Washington DC have low parking ratios and/or inefficient layouts with tandem spaces and poor column spacing. As a result, many parking facilities have valet-only or valet-assist operations. This means that, in many cases, valet parking attendants are parking or “stacking” customers’ vehicles to maximize parking efficiency and garage utilization. For this reason, staffing costs can be high relative to other large urban markets as more labor is needed to ensure a positive customer experience. Since labor costs are high, many commercial garages do not operate on a 24/7 basis.
Parking revenue is taxed at 18% in Washington DC. In northern Virginia, parking revenues are not taxed. This is significant, since many large parking facilities are located Virginia’s Rosslyn, Pentagon City and Crystal City submarkets. Parking Advisors evaluates the taxes paid by the parking operator during the diligence process to ensure they are calculated and modeled correctly.
The use of online reservation platforms is significant in Washington DC compared with some other US parking markets. Of the three largest aggregators, two charge significant commissions, resulting in a noticeable negative impact on the net parking fees earned by parking owners and the value of parking facilities. Parking Advisors collects sales and commission data nationwide and recommends taking steps to use alternative online sales strategies to maximize online sales revenues and mitigate the high commissions that these two vendors charge.