Carsharing Concept Gains Momentum in Condominium Developments

ReachNow, BMW Group’s carsharing service, has served the 700 residents of the Solaire, a residential tower in Battery Park City, N.Y., since December 2016. BMW Group says it plans to expand the ReachNow program to residential and business complexes across the U.S. Photo courtesy of BMW Group.
ReachNow, BMW Group’s carsharing service, has served the 700 residents of the Solaire, a residential tower in Battery Park City, N.Y., since December 2016. BMW Group says it plans to expand the ReachNow program to residential and business complexes across the U.S. Photo courtesy of BMW Group.

Real estate developers are finding new opportunities to capitalize on their condo development projects, building more units on less land, by incorporating carsharing into their ­building amenities.

City planners are making it even easier, changing the laws for carsharing services to grow in this space. In the city of New Rochelle, N.Y., for example, real estate developers can now ditch three conventional car spaces for every carshare space due to a new provision in their city bylaws.

Carsharing also reduces the need for new transit, thus opening up “edge” developments in underserved parts of cities, according to Paul Lipson of Barretto Bay Strategies, an urban policy consulting firm.

From a building management perspective, the leveraging of carsharing in condominium communities reduces the need for parking spaces in the building, while allowing tenants more cost-effective access to mobility compared to traditional car ownership and monthly parking space fees. Condo amenities may now include 24/7 access to shared vehicles for its owners; something that many are admitting is a big selling point for these condo buyers.

Condominiums considering carsharing operations will find  starting a service is no longer prohibitive and doesn’t require the involvement of mega corporations. Now it is cost-effective for developers and condo boards to successfully own and operate their own private carsharing businesses (or to partner with smaller independent operators), exclusively for their condo owners. That is because on-demand, self-service technology is readily available and designed to empower managers to start a carsharing service easier than previous offerings.

The idea of carsharing has been floating around for over a decade. Brands like Zipcar have helped bring carsharing into cities and the mainstream — lobbying for new by-laws and placing their vehicles in high-density urban spaces.  

Carsharing services are especially popular among the under-30 crowd in dense urban centers where space is at a premium. Many in this group consider car ownership to be a luxury or a hassle rather than a necessity, especially when they are centrally located. They are also more likely to rent a vehicle rather than own one and to purchase a condominium as their first property. This means that a growing number of condo owners are open and interested in the proposition of carsharing, especially if it is convenient and economical.

David McComb, president of Edenshaw, a downtown Toronto condominium with four carsharing vehicles, says that his residents are happy to say “no” to car ownership. “They don’t want the burden or the operating costs of a permanent vehicle,” he says.

Condo developers have found themselves with an opportunity to provide a growing demographic, which has moved away from vehicle ownership, with a cost-effective mobility solution. This trend in condo development reduces the number of parking spaces by using carsharing, which also provides added value for condo owners as well as higher revenue and an increase in the number of buildable units for condo ­developers.

The opportunity is ripe for condo complexes to own or manage a fleet of carsharing vehicles with rental automation technology. The building owner can acquire carsharing technology and management automation software, complete with custom mobile apps for their customers. Then the building can operate a carsharing fleet uniquely for residents.

About the Author

Alex Aryafar is Rent Centric’s chief technology officer. Rent Centric is a provider of car rental management systems, including a self-service carsharing platform. For more technology information, visit www.rentcentric.com.

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