Urbanism Next
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Parking & Building Design

What opportunities exist for the spaces in and around buildings that are currently devoted to parking?


Businesses are adjusting their physical spaces to accommodate the new norm of physical distancing in many ways, from repurposing parking lots for dining to changing layouts to allow for quick pick-up of meals and goods. Urbanism Next explores how building design is changing from Covid-19 and what changes might stick in the future on the Covid-19 Impacts: Building Design page.

To learn more about how Covid-19 is changing urban areas, from transportation to building design and real estate, read Urbanism Next's two new reports in the Covid-19 – Impacts on Cities and Suburbs series, Key Takeaways Across Multiple Sectors and Impacts to the Urbanism Next Framework.

What is driving change?

Change in Parking Demand

The proliferation of on-demand ridehailing services accompanied by a decrease in vehicle ownership is likely to reduce the demand for parking spaces. New buildings may be built with less parking, no parking, or parking that can be easily converted into other uses in the future. A reduction in demand for existing parking capacity will create opportunities to modify existing properties.

Shift in Modes

As the use of micromobility and on-demand ride services increase, building design may change to reflect these modal shifts. Parking facilities, for instance, may be repurposed into mobility hubs with docking stations or pick-up/drop-off spaces, accommodating both passenger and goods movement.

Competition for the Right-of-Way

To help mitigate competition for limited curb space, drop-off and pick-up facilities may be accommodated off-street as part of new building design. The City of Chandler, Arizona, for example, updated its code to allow developers to reduce the amount of parking provided by instead providing an off-street loading zone.

Changes in Goods & Meal Delivery

E-commerce and the sharing economy are facilitating the growth of on-demand delivery services. Today, goods and meals can be ordered online and delivered quickly. Real estate developers may need to dedicate a portion of the property for new forms of delivery stations and building services that address logistics and security concerns related to deliveries. Already some developers and residential building managers are adding and/or expanding package areas to manage the increase in deliveries and incorporating package concierge service stations.

Future Changes

What Could Happen?

  • Space for parking in and around buildings could be reclaimed and repurposed. If demand for parking declines and parking lots grow smaller or are removed from developments all together, these spaces—or the funds that would have been used to create them—could be reclaimed for other uses. Buildings could move toward the street and ground floors could shift from parking to uses that engage the street. The area used for surface parking lots could instead be used for housing or mixed-use developments, and budget savings from not building parking could translate into more units or lower rents. Existing parking structures could be much more difficult to retrofit to other uses as they are limited by continuous ramps and low ceiling heights.
  • Parking needs could shift to pick-up and drop-off needs. New mobility could reduce or eliminate the need for parking, but will increase the need for pick-up and drop-off of passengers. This could happen on-street, in front of buildings, or could be at such high volumes that it will need to have dedicated space off-street and within building parcels.
  • Parking will need to be flexible. Parking demand will not change overnight which means buildings will need to have flexible strategies that address this transition period as the demand for parking diminishes. Some parking could be permanent, but other areas will need to be designed to be easily demountable or retrofitted to other uses.
  • The types of parking needed could change. New mobility vehicles may require their own specialized types of parking and charging infrastructure—either on-street or off-street. It’s likely that the space needed to accommodate them will be far less than what is currently allocated for conventional vehicle parking. It’s also possible that some types of new mobility vehicles would be operated as fleets, allowing for larger, centralized parking and charging structures to provide these services outside of building lots or even outside of urban cores.
  • Access for delivery vehicles could be added to existing buildings. With package deliveries increasing as e-commerce grows, the focus of existing parking areas may shift to uses that support online shopping. For residential buildings, existing parking lots could be incorporated into extra space for delivery vehicles, especially in multi-tenant or high delivery volume buildings. Where e-commerce has contributed to the shuttering of malls and big-box stores, there could also be an opportunity to reconsider parking minimums as communities grapple with the reduced land values and other challenges that redeveloping these lots will likely pose.


  • New mobility options are replacing personal driving trips. Transportation network companies (TNCs), bikeshare rides, and scooters are replacing driving trips. This means the vehicles that would need to be stored in parking are no longer needing those spaces. This shift from personal driving to new mobility is continuing to grow and could dramatically reduce the need for parking in and around buildings.
  • Parking for electric vehicles (EVs) and micromobility devices is becoming more widespread. Charging stations for electric vehicles have been appearing in parking garages and commercial parking lots as the popularity of EVs grows. Different ways to provide this amenity have emerged: some require paid access, some are free, and others are brand-sponsored. Parking corrals for e-scooters and other micromobility devices are also being implemented in various fashions. Evaluating these case studies and pilots can help inform practices and policies for these types of infrastructure going forward.
  • Store parking lots are changing. Buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) is growing as a fulfillment method as customers appreciate the convenience of shopping online and the opportunity to avoid delivery charges. This has led to designated parking spots at big-box stores, chain retailers, restaurants, and grocery stores across the country. This type of model bridges the gap between online shopping and the need to connect customers with goods locally, and is reshaping how parking lots are used and allocated for brick-and-mortar retailers.
  • Zoning code allowing pick-up and drop-off spots to replace minimum parking requirements. The City of Chandler, Arizona has modified its zoning code to allow up to a 40% reduction in the minimum parking requirement based on an owner providing designated pick-up and drop-off zones for TNCs.

Quick facts

Si aliae qui ommolenet que prati aut eossitae optatus daepell uptatur andante comni idebit quid moluptio te am quat facculparum recaecte.

  • Nearly 68% of online shoppers use “Buy online, pickup in stores” options when available, according to industry research.
  • The increasing popularity of micromobility could shrink parking needs—84 million shared micromobility trips were taken in the United States in 2018.

What to do

Si aliae qui ommolenet que prati aut eossitae optatus daepell uptatur andante comni idebit quid moluptio te am quat facculparum recaecte.

Not sure where to start? Below are four What to Do pages that we think are especially relevant to Parking & Building Design:

More about what to do »


Policies, pilots, and approaches

Communication tools

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