Condo owners renting out parking spaces Airbnb-style
Crain's Chicago Business
By Dennis Rodkin
07 December 2016
unit owner in this River North building uses an app to rent out his two
parking spaces. Photo by
Brandon Arnold walks ten minutes to work from his River North condo and
doesn't have a car, so he doesn't need the two parking spaces that came
But other people do.
Using an app developed in Chicago, Arnold rents one of his spaces to a
woman who keeps a car downtown for weekend use, and the other to a man
who parks during working hours Monday to Friday. On weeknights and
weekends, when that latter space is empty, Arnold occasionally rents it
to people coming to the neighborhood to shop or dine.
makes about $400 a month
Arnold, who's in banking, makes about $400 a month on what he says
would otherwise be "wasted real estate. It's getting me money for space
that I was doing nothing with," Arnold said.
He's one of about 500 Chicago condo owners renting out the parking
spaces they own but don't use via ParqEex, a peer-to-peer marketplace
for parking. ParqEx is essentially an Airbnb for parking spaces, in
which unused assets are offered online to users.
"It's free money," said Caleb Stephenson, who with his girlfriend,
Ashley Hofmann, rents out the parking space that came with their Fulton
Market district condo.
About 8,000 Chicago-area parking spaces are listed on ParqEx, according
to CEO Vivek Mehra, who founded the company in mid-2015. Most are part
of commercial real estate portfolios, but 600 belong to condo-owners.
(Like Arnold, some of the 500 owners have more than one space.)
Stephenson, who works in IT, and Hofmann, who works for a non-profit
association, both get around via foot and Divvy bike. They have no need
for a car, but when they bought the one-bedroom condo on Fulton Street
in 2013, he said, they recognized that "it will be easier to resell if
it has a parking space," so they held onto it.
After a few years the pair realized they had a valuable asset that
wasn't providing them any benefit, so they started trying to rent it
out on Craigslist. It didn't go well. "I felt like the people who came
were a little shady," Stephenson said. "I had to ask them to bring me
cash or checks because PayPal can be trickier."
Eventually they found ParqEx, which handles all the details, and since
December 2015, the couple's space has been rented by monthly users,
most recently a woman who's had it for six months and parks during the
workday. She pays $250 a month. The homeowners clear $215 after paying
a service fee to ParqEx. The stated fee is 20 percent, but has been
Nobody knows how many condo parking spaces sit unused, but in a study
of spaces in apartment buildings released last March, the Center for
Neighborhood Technology found that on average, one-third of off-street
residential parking is empty at night.
ParkEx "is a demonstration of how parking could be better utilized,"
said Kyle Smith, the study's author. Now an independent consultant, he
has no affiliation with ParqEx. Different groups–commuters, shoppers,
residents–have different parking needs, Smith said, but "historically,
we've built parking spaces for each of those different functions, and
you really only need one."
For the parking tenant, Stephenson said, "my space is better than being
in some parking garage, because she gets a dedicated space in a heated
condo boards cooperate
Mehra said the technology in the ParqEx app can open nearly all condo
buildings' garage doors or gates, but it requires installation of a
piece of hardware on the door or gate. So far, no building's homeowner
board or management company has declined to allow installation, he
said. "Our technology is more secure than what they have there today,"
Arnold said he provided a copy of his ParqEx lease agreement to his
building's management company, "and that was fine, as long as they knew
who to contact in an emergency." He suggested that renting out condo
parking spaces wouldn't be upsetting to other residents as renting
condos or apartments on Airbnb can be.
Two reasons: most condo parking garages are accessed separately from
the residential hallways, so residents won't interact with
space-renters. And "people might rent your condo for the weekend and
party the whole time, but nobody's going to stay in your parking space
to party," Arnold say. "They're gone in a few minutes."
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