International Parking & Mobility Institute



While parking will always be needed, as alternative transportation becomes increasingly prevalent, a future with fewer cars seems possible. What alternatives exist to help owners “future-proof” parking facilities with options that can easily transition into other uses if no longer needed?

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Larry J. Cohen, CAPP

Executive Director

Lancaster Parking Authority

I believe the demise of the parking garage is overrated unless a community has the infrastructure of a great public transit system and alternative means of commuting that are comparable in ease for the single-occupant driver! Converting parking garages to other means of use (housing, commercial, or retail space) is difficult and costly unless foresight was integrated into the project when designed, and building codes haven’t changed drastically throughout the years. ”

Alicia Paine

Alicia L. Paine

Founder and CEO

MPT Space Solutions, LLC

Repurposing vacant parking lots and garages for affordable housing and community gardens not only has a positive impact on the current homeless population but also reduces city congestion, stimulates the economy, and generates revenue for asset owners.”

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Scott Petri


Mobility & Parking Advisors LLC

Due to the increasing demand at the curb, the limited supply of off-street parking, and the likely substantial growth of car sharing, I believe that off-street parking will remain a vital asset to store vehicles. ”

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Michael T. App, AIA, LEED AP, Parksmart Advisor

Director of Architecture

THA Consulting

The first step towards creating a parking design that can accommodate the conversion from parking use to another use is to provide proper floor-to-floor heights for an occupied space. Historically, parking design has only considered the clearances required by the code or ADA requirements for parking – but this is too short for an occupied space that needs HVAC and other items above a ceiling. Some municipalities are now beginning to write these higher floor-to-floor requirements and architectural façade requirements into their zoning ordinance requirements for parking development to allow for future conversion of the ground level.

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Christopher Jones

Operations Manager, Ground Transportation & Parking

YYC Calgary International Airport

Airports may have the opportunity to transform the parking facility into an integrated transportation hub. Unused space can be used for car rentals, ride-share and taxi staging or pick-up/drop-off, and connections to regional transit while still maintaining public and employee parking access. This shift could free up land for a higher and better use around the terminal and reduce curbside congestion as transactions move into the structure. Increased foot traffic to the facility may also support increased retail or food options outside of the terminal.

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John W. Hammerschlag


Hammerschlag & Co., Inc.

Future-proofing comes with a high economic cost (analysis suggests up to 40%) as perceived future economic benefits paid for today may not occur for 20 to 40 years, if at all. Today’s future-proofing specifications may also become obsolete or unusable in the future. Undesirable design compromises, such as flat floors throughout the structure instead of sloped floors (think, double helix), increased floor-to-ceiling heights, and steeper slopes to ramp between floors. These compromises can negatively impact the functional aspects of the parking structure today as well as the construction cost.

Tobias Marx

Tobias Marx

Parking Services Division Manager

City of Bend, OR

Parking facilities should be envisioned as the mobility hubs of the future, preparing for and integrating access to new mobility options beyond EV charging. This includes accommodating micro-mobility, delivery hubs, transit access, and potentially serving as mini satellite locations for municipal services. Designs should prioritize adaptability, allowing for future conversion to non-car uses like affordable housing to meet evolving urban needs efficiently.

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Erik Nelson, PCIP

Director of Operations & Technology Consulting

Walker Consultants

A future-enabled parking structure would need to be designed to handle more load than parking (up to 3x), have appropriate ingress and egress, appropriate ceiling height, and the ability to handle the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing needs of other uses. Additionally, the ramping system may need to be removed or modified to handle alternate uses. It will be more expensive but might be worth it for some owners.

Christopher Perry-retouched

Christopher Perry

SVP of National Sales & Operations

Parking Base

Parking is about vehicle storage, and self-driving cars, TNCs, delivery vehicles, etc., must be stored. Parking facilities equipped with a digital platform capable of managing fractional permits and high-volume, low-duration sessions in an API data-sharing environment will be positioned for success.

Andrew Sachs-new

Andrew Sachs


Gateway Parking Services

Future-proofing is profoundly difficult to justify when constructing a new facility. Garages with angled ramps and low ceilings do not lend themselves to easy conversion. The hype rarely translates to reality once the costs are considered and weighed against the unknown future.

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Rob McConnell, PE, SE, LEED Green Associate

VP, Market Leader

WGI, Inc.

Parking structures built today will likely still be around 50 years from now. Good planning approaches help owners understand the cost of building for adaptive reuse; parking structures with flatter floors, greater structural capacity, more headroom, removeable ramping, larger electrical and plumbing service, etc., versus traditional parking structures that can be demolished (or dismantled) and replaced with a future building of higher, better use.

Peter Sherwill

Peter Sherwill

Vice President, Business Development

Reimagined Parking

To help future-proof parking facilities, asset owners can start small by adding features of mobility hubs such as bicycle racks, scooter-sharing stations, Amazon lockers, and electric vehicle chargers. This can be taken further by investing in structural reinforcement and utilities to create alternative uses such as rooftop restaurants, bars, or silent cinemas. These venues create new revenue streams for property owners to counteract reduced parking demand.


Michael T. Klein

Founder & CEO

Klein & Associates

Well-located parking facilities make great logistical hubs, and there should be reduced costs when retrofitting facilities with amenities such as charging stations and transit point-of-use information by leveraging existing infrastructure and power sources. By aligning and coordinating transit modes at existing parking facilities, including micro-mobility support, we provide people with more flexible access and better support for economic development.

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The opinions and thoughts expressed by the contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions and viewpoints of the International Parking & Mobility Institute or official policies of IPMI.