Americans love their cars. And even more so these days when faced with the alternative of packing themselves in public transportation replete with all those people who carry nasty viruses. With this newfound car appreciation comes some better car care. Fancy car condo anyone?
Manhattan car condos
Manhattanites are used to spending money for parking. And one parking management company, Centerpark, is converting its Upper East Side location (where else) to a condominium, not for people, but for their cars. For up to $325,000, slightly less than the median price of a home in America, New Yorkers can buy one of 23 parking spaces for their car.
Why, you might wonder, would people spend that kind of money when they can use Uber if they don't want to ride public transportation? The reason is Uber can cost $60 to go just five miles or so, say from the Upper East Side to Tribeca. And that can add up quickly. Fifteen of those types of Uber rides per day for a year totals the cost of a car condo.
What that $300,000 buys you
For hundreds of thousands of dollars, Manhattan car owners can buy a 185-square-foot space to park one car plus room to hang, perhaps, a stroller or golf clubs. Oh but that isn't the end of the payments. Car condo owners also need to pay property taxes on that space -- which should come to more than $3,700 a year -- and condo fees.
People aren't using public transportation
Even before COVID-19's effect of conditioning people to practice social distancing, most folks didn't really care for public transportation and haven't embraced it the way people in Europe and Asia have.
Low ridership has been a consistent problem in metros across the country, meaning public transportation needs to be subsidized by our tax dollars. This is partly due to the American car culture and partly because the overall experience of public transportation is typically not great when you consider the wait time and the possibility of getting sick from other passengers.
Public transportation down, car ridership up
Many New Yorkers who use public transportation have given it up during the pandemic. Subway ridership as of mid-July dropped 54% over pre-pandemic days. Combine that with car registrations rising in Manhattan by 27% in 2020, and on course to surpass that in 2021, and you have an even greater reliance on cars.
Parking those cars can be a real problem, and one that's gotten worse during the pandemic, as outdoor restaurants and bike lanes have taken away up to 10,000 parking spaces. (Outdoor dining and bike riding became more popular during the pandemic.)
Parking garages and car condos
Parking garages that offer monthly rates are booming, but even that isn't the same as owning your own space the way a car condo does. A car condo provides security and convenience to car owners in Manhattan who can afford to buy the best experience New York has to offer.
The Millionacres bottom line
Car condos are a luxury convenience for New Yorkers. And they can also be viewed as an investment. Some are tied to co-op buildings, which increases the overall value of the apartment.
Car condos are also found in other parts of the country. They're geared mainly to car enthusiasts who store their tricked-out vintage cars in a sort of finished-basement environment suitable for entertaining. Think of them as a next step for the traditional self-storage business.
Cars are about as American as apple pie, and investing in space to park those cars seems to be hot right now.