Parking critical in condo projects
Downtown, an underground stall costs about $25,000 to create
Edmonton Journal
by Alexandra Zabjek
13 February 2015

Detached parking garages at a condominium building in southwest Edmonton.
Photograph by: Larry Wong , Edmonton Journal

EDMONTON–Forget about the rooftop patio, glossy kitchen, or perfect view.

Those might be the first things a buyer looks for in a condominium, but they’re not the first things a developer thinks about when drawing plans for a project.

“Every project revolves around parking. Most buildings are designed around it,” said Robert McLeod, CEO of McLeod Project Marketing, which works on condo projects in Edmonton.

Parkades may not be pretty to look at, but they literally form the foundation of highrise condo towers and remain a vital selling feature for any condo unit in Edmonton.

The cost of an underground parking stall in the downtown area these days? Approximately $25,000. The cost for a surface level stall? About $10,000.

Land costs are so high downtown that it generally makes sense to move parking underground. Some projects can involve two to four levels of underground parking, which is an expensive and potentially complicated project, McLeod said.

In more suburban locations, a developer might build one level of underground parking and then offer additional, less expensive, surface-level parking as an alternative.

“I always try to help buyers understand what the true value of parking is,” McLeod said.

Outdoor parking stalls at a condominium building in downtown Edmonton.
Photograph by: Larry Wong, Edmonton Journal

And sometimes they figure it out for themselves. He recalled a recent condo project where units initially went on sale in the summer. Some buyers opted for the surface level stalls. But as winter came into force, many of those buyers asked to upgrade to underground stalls.

Some condo developers in Edmonton are breaking out the cost of a parking stall, with suites sold at a certain cost and parking stalls sold separately. McLeod’s firm is working on the six-storey Infinity on 105 building in Oliver, which initially allowed buyers to choose between a surface and underground stall and the price was separate from the unit. Prices at the Infinity now include the surface stall.

Parking in condo towers is controlled by city regulations, which dictate specifications such as the size of a stall and the size of the aisle. The city also sets parameters for the number of stalls needed for a building.

For example, a condo building requires one stall per one-bedroom or bachelor apartment and requires at least 1.5 stalls per two-bedroom apartment. There must be one visitor parking stall per seven units.

Those rules change for buildings in transit-oriented development areas, and the requirements ease up for buildings located downtown. Condos in the area between 95th Street and 111th Street generally require 0.4 stalls per one-bedroom unit and 0.8 stalls per two-bedroom unit.

Outdoor covered parking stalls at a condominium building in downtown Edmonton.
Photograph by: Larry Wong, Edmonton Journal

This has led some developers to market suites as “one-bedroom, plus den” rather than “two bedroom,” McLeod said. A bigger two-bedroom suite not only bumps up the selling price significantly but also requires more parking stalls.

In Calgary, a developer has made headlines for pitching a condo tower without offering parking stalls to residents. It’s a relatively rare proposal in Canada.

“... 100 per cent of my clients need parking”

“I would say that 100 per cent of my clients need parking,” said Jakie Ng, a realtor with Re/Max River City in Edmonton.

The number of clients who don’t need a stall is “very, very small,” Ng said. The lack of a parking stall becomes an issue when that client wants to sell the unit—few people will want to buy it without a stall.

Ng thinks the situation may change in Edmonton when condo prices get so high that people may consider shaving $30,000 off the cost of their home to get into the building they want, even without parking.

Things might also change when public transit in Edmonton develops to the point where not having a car becomes an easier option, he said.

Ng has seen an underground parking stall in a high-end Edmonton building sell for $45,000, although he acknowledges that price is unusual.

When it comes to the best spot in the garage, Ng said the criteria is simple: “It’s the one with the least amount of steps from the stall to the elevator.”

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