Urbanism Next
University of OregonUniversity of Oregon

Programmatic Shifts

As less ground floor space is devoted to parking and buildings are better able to engage the street, how might ground floor uses change?
Table and chairs in front of fountain

Photo by Freddy Do on Unsplash


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.

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.

Shifting Nature of Freight

Fulfillment centers are increasingly being built in urban areas in order to locate goods closer to final destinations and reduce delivery time. The design of fulfillment centers in or near urban cores is changing in order to reflect the characteristics of the built environment. Multi-story warehouses may be increasingly common in the future, while other buildings may be designed with smaller loading bays or the ability to accommodate delivery robots.

Future Changes

What Could Happen?

  • Both building design and programing within buildings are expected to change. This is particularly true so long as package deliveries continue to grow in volume and frequency. While new construction may be able to more easily add package handling infrastructure, existing buildings may find ongoing challenges in handling packages for multiple tenants. A market for package-handling renovations and delivery accommodation could develop, although some buildings will be more feasible to renovate than others. The presence or absence of efficient and effective package delivery systems in multi-tenant buildings could affect values, rents, and staffing costs for building managers.
  • Demands for in-unit space could skew toward smaller units. If more people begin to rely on delivery services for food, meals, and household goods, larger units could become less necessary. Without having to store a week’s or month’s worth of groceries and supplies, current kitchen, pantry, and storage closet sizes may become too large for typical use. However, with more frequent deliveries, tenant demand for secure and convenient delivery and storage of these goods will likely rise. 
  • Parking requirements could shrink. With decreased demand for parking personal vehicles in residential and commercial developments, future development projects may be able to omit or substantially reduce the amount of parking compared to existing demands. Without parking lots between buildings and the street, first floor units could open directly onto the street, offering new opportunities for activation. For buildings with existing parking structures, these spaces could potentially be repurposed into other uses—although the low floor to ceiling height on the levels of many stacked parking structures and garages may prohibit some future uses due to lack of vertical space


  • Building managers are already trying to find solutions for handling increased deliveries. So far, a consistently viable solution has remained elusive. Package thefts from residential deliveries are common and building managers are sometimes resorting to charging tenants fees to receive packages. On the commercial side, the rise of the “buy online, pick up in store” model has led major retailers to shift and reallocate their ratios of front-of-house and back-of-house square footage to accommodate the need for more storage of items purchased via e-commerce.
  • Building security has long been a consideration in building design and programming. An increase in the presence of delivery staff from a wide range of companies with varying levels of hiring scrutiny is already beginning to raise concerns about programming and the layout and design of lobbies, hallways, and other common or shared spaces.
  • Parking is not always needed by every tenant in a building. It is also expensive to build and maintain. When parking spot costs are lumped in with residential rents, this can create inequities as those who do not use this resource subsidize the cost of parking for others. Many buildings, particularly those with limited spots, are already starting to uncouple the costs of parking from base rental rates and are instead charging separately for the use of this amenity.

Quick facts

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

  • Transit services are limited in suburban and rural areas, and the rise of TNCs may be further drawing down the rider base, leaving fewer transportation options for the people drawn to the less expensive housing in these areas.
  • The decline in shopping malls across the US has led to reduced availability of goods and services in suburban areas.
  • The trend towards living near city cores has made housing more scarce and more expensive in many major urban areas.

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 Programmatic Shifts:

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