If you own a commercial investment property or a business that needs a storefront, you are understandably concerned with the interior square footage, and the amenities and improvements that will help you attract long-term tenants. But have you ever taken a good look at what your building offers tenants in terms of convenient parking, exterior security/safety and “curb appeal?” If not, it’s time to do so. It can pay you big dividends.
Whether your property is designed for retail, office or industrial use or is a small-to-medium size residential apartment building, the availability of parking for use by tenants and guests is a vital consideration. If your building has a designated lot, you are a step ahead of some owners. But the quality of the parking, in terms of its convenience and attractiveness, can raise the bar on the “appeal meter” as well as help you to command higher lease rates.
What to Consider
Why is the parking lot around your commercial investment just as important as the property itself? It’s not just the quality of the surface that matters, although that, too, is a big consideration. Just as the first impression of a home is based partially on the surrounding landscape as well as the look of the entry, commercial property is judged not by the appearance of the building alone, but also by what’s adjacent to it – in other words, it’s judged by its curb appeal. A swath of black asphalt may be efficient, but crisp striping, proper tire stops, well-designed traffic flow, adequate lighting, or trees and planter boxes to soften the effect of the hard surface add value as well as boost visual appeal.
The number of spaces required for a parking lot is often mandated by governmental authorities, but creating space for vehicles shouldn’t overshadow the need for human convenience. A well-designed, properly paved, and impeccably maintained parking area will set your building apart from others. If it’s private parking, used only by your building’s tenants, you’ll have greater control over the aesthetic part of the equation. Consider adding some appropriate landscaping elements that complement the architecture of your building.
Adjusting the Environment
Although there are myriad variables to consider when creating a parking lot, think about what you can do to offer some shade or a bit of green space, create safe and pleasant pathways from the parking area to the building’s front door, add lighting for those who might be coming and going from the building after dark, and make provision for inclement weather. In areas that receive heavy rain, assure that your parking lot has adequate drainage so that it doesn’t become a lake! If snow removal is an issue, make certain that a plow is able to easily navigate the space.
Whether your spaces are assigned to specific tenants, or your parking lot is open to all, take into account the need for designated handicap spaces, delivery vehicles and even motorcycle or bike parking.
In retail parking lots, don’t skimp on the need for shopping cart storage and spaces that accommodate loading bags and boxes into parked vehicles. For office, restaurant and commercial lots, cater to the needs of short-term parkers or those who are simply dropping off or picking up products and people.
In short, a little bit of thought about the possible needs of the people who will use your parking lot goes a long way. Curb appeal might just be the deciding factor on a prospective tenant’s wish list. There is nothing stopping you from making your parking lot as desirable as your building itself – just make sure to start with a solid foundation.