Anyone who has ever circled the corners looking for a parking spot in Chicago, especially in the brutal winters, understands the importance of having a regular parking spot. In a city as crowded and fast-paced as Chicago, parking is a big deal, and many take advantage of the need by charging exorbitant prices.
Given the hot commodity that parking spaces represent in the city, it’s not surprising that many co-op and condo buildings operate their own parking facilities, both as an amenity for residents, and as a source of revenue.“Indoor parking is a tremendous luxury, especially during the brutal Chicago winters,” says Larry Rodriguez, a Chicago-based realtor specializing in condos. “It’s an enormous convenience, a huge asset, and it’s hard for me to believe that any new high-rise would attract buyers if they didn't have garage services. A building without parking amenities, you would have to rely on public transportation.”
“Many of the older buildings in Chicago do not have parking associated or have had to rent in nearby garages and facilities,” says Mary Coursey of LAZ Parking, which operates seven condo or co-op garages in Chicago. “Newer construction has a high percentage, if not 100 percent due to city of Chicago zoning requirements. Of those buildings that do have parking, a high percentage own their own garage, where a few have actually carved the garage out as a separate unit in the building and sold them to private owners.”
Regardless of whether the facility is underneath the building or adjacent to it, there’s more to running a parking garage than just painting some stripes on the pavement and watching the cash roll in. Management, allocation of spaces, insurance and security are just the beginning of the considerations that must be taken into account.
With 75 residential locations in the Chicagoland area, Standard Parking is the largest garage management firm in the city. “There are two types of services; you can do management or a lease,” says Steven A. Warshauer, Standard's executive vice president of operations. “With management, we operate the garage on their behalf and we collect all revenues, pay all expenses, and at the end of the month, if there is money left over, we present a check with the financial statement. If there’s a shortfall, we present an invoice and they pay us for that.”