Alternative Uses For Parking Lots

For many reasons, parking lots are beginning to fall out of favor in American construction. The gigantic multi-story lots that used to dominate cities are falling by the wayside. You may have noticed a general decline in auto traffic at your business or maybe you are dealing with fewer customers thanks to the ongoing pandemic. Whatever the reason may be, you might be thinking about what to do with your now empty, unused parking lot.

Why are parking lots falling out of use?

The Rise of Cycling 

More and more people are cycling rather than driving now. Besides being cheaper than cars, bikes are smaller and easier to manage, have less upkeep, and provide exercise. They don’t need huge lots because they don’t take up as much space. Additionally, as cities are better designed now, it’s easier for people to get where they’re going with a bicycle. 

E-Commerce

Shopping online has revolutionized our economy in a few short years. Nowadays a consumer can get all manner of goods, including food and groceries from the comfort of home. Simply put, people don’t need to drive as much, so they don’t need parking. E-commerce has already critically wounded shopping malls, parking lots aren’t far behind. 

Car Ownership is Decreasing

It’s predicted that car ownership in the US will drop by 80% over the next 10 years. There’s already a glut of spaces compared to cars too. The US has about 2 billion parking spaces… and only 250 million cars. An oversupply of spaces and decreasing car ownership means it’s probably a good idea to think about other uses for vast parking lots.

Economic Instability

The COVID-19 pandemic popped a lot of economic bubbles. One of them is in-person shopping. Not only is it more convenient, it’s now often the only safe choice people have. 

Nobody knows what surprises are in store for the coming years. One thing is fairly certain though- when the economy hits hard times, people go out less. They shop less, go out to eat less, and go out for entertainment less often. With these changes, we will see even less use of already empty parking lots. You don’t need an enormous parking lot for a workplace when everyone is working from home. 

Autonomous Vehicles

The rise of self-driving cars is going to make a huge impact. Car ownership is already on the downswing, autonomous vehicles will only make it lower. A city with a fleet of self-driving cars can easily transport people for lower costs than traditional car ownership or taxis. If autonomous cars are used constantly, stopping only to recharge/refuel, the need for places to keep cars goes down. 

What Can We Do With Parking Lots?

Fortunately for business owners and developers, parking lots and garages provide plenty of opportunity. Parking lots can be remodeled into other businesses, or demolished and turned into something completely new. Let’s look at a few of the best options.

Food Truck/Pop-up Business

This is a great — and economical — option. Without making any major changes to your paved lot, a food truck can generate some income. In fact, all over the US, farmers markets are often set up on unused parking lots. All you need is a tent/cover, tables, and whatever you are selling. Let that unused pavement earn some extra money for you.

If you let a small vendor such as a food truck operate on your lot, it will generate more foot traffic. That might result in more business for your own workplace. 

Apartments and Housing

If the parking lot is old, dilapidated, and unused, it might not be worth keeping. It instead would be better to take it down all-together and build something new. Building houses over lots is great, as the land is already flat once the pavement is removed, and existing pavement can be kept for driveways, sidewalks, and other residential needs. 

In the case that the lot doesn’t need to be torn down, it can be renovated. Existing parking lots have already been used to make apartments and businesses. Parts of the lots can be maintained, so people living at the apartments can have a nice parking space right next to their abode. 

E-Commerce Centers

Dingy, dark underground parking garages might not seem great for anything. Fortunately, delivery companies always have their eyes peeled for the next opportunity. Underground garages, with a little remodeling, make great fulfillment centers for companies like Amazon. They are cool, dry, and don’t have much traffic. The fact that many garages are in cities means that goods can be stored en masse even closer to where people live. Unlike massive centers outside of cities, in-city locations will result in shorter delivery times.

Urban Farms

Remove the asphalt, and you have a smooth, flat area that’s great for a small farm plot. Many parking lots are also in open areas, so the new farmland can get plenty of sunlight. Another benefit of turning parking lots into farmland is that farmland can be flexible. A house or apartment building must be a certain size — not so with growing space. You can grow vegetables on various types of space, and many vines, like tomatoes and squash do great with vertical space.

The Sky’s The Limit

Why not free up this space in cities? Parking lots can — and already have — become parks, workplaces, businesses, apartments, and more. You can do so much with a parking lot because so many lots are already in prime spots in cities.

Interested In Re-purposing Your Parking Lot?

Reliable Paving is an all-purpose paving contractor. With over 35 years of experience and a reputation for integrity, we are happy to help with any asphalt paving-related solutions you might need. We can help with paving, demolishing, renovation and reconstruction. Contact us today to see how we can help you.