Post-COVID-19, Could This Be the Next Hot CRE Asset?

Though many are working from home now because of stay-at-home orders, eventually there will be a return to offices—and people want to be safe getting there.

Jessica Fiur, Managing Editor

“I’m done with public transportation,” my husband said the other day. “Done. From now on, I’m going to drive to work.”

I rolled my eyes. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. Neither of us have been to our respective offices in months. 

But, actually…offices will eventually reopen, right? Some across the country already are! 

I live in the New Jersey suburbs. In the “before times,” I had to take a crowded bus to Manhattan, and then a packed subway to my office. In the best situations, it took about an hour, door to door. When there was traffic, or rain, or snow, or accident, it took much, much longer. Could I go back to that, with the added stress of wearing a mask the whole commute while growing increasingly paranoid every time someone coughs? 

Maybe I’m done with public transportation, too.

Over the past couple of years, driving and car ownership has been on the decline. Last year, The Wall Street Journal reported that in 2017 only a quarter of 16 years olds had a driver’s license, a much smaller number than in years past.

Image credit: Wikipedia Commons

But could COVID-19 cause a resurgence in driving? As people go back into the office, safety and cleanliness will be at the forefront of everyone’s minds. 

Fewer people may feel comfortable taking public transportation going forward. And don’t even mention Ubers or cabs or other shared driving services. Who knows who was in the car before you, and if the driver wiped everything down!

Cars might be the answer. And if so, could parking structures be the new, hot CRE asset class?

It’s already being predicted that more people will drive post-COVID-19, particularly when it comes to vacations (after all, what is a plane if not a big, flying bus?). 

And people who can no longer work from home will still have to get there.

Suburban offices have to consider parking structures anyway. And the novel Coronavirus might have investors considering suburban offices going forward, at least for the near future. Even coworking spaces, which might have had some troubles at the beginning of the pandemic, might do well in the suburbs

But even city offices might want to consider parking spaces to lure back workers. Space, of course, in cities is at a premium—and street parking is sometimes impossible. No one is going to want to drive in to work if they have to drive around for an hour looking for parking. A dedicated parking structure could be viewed as a major job perk for companies. Now might be the perfect time to invest in them.

Just, you know, don’t tell my husband he was right.

What do you think? Are parking structures a sure bet for office spaces? Or will people continue to take public transportation? Would you consider taking public transportation again? Leave a comment on our Facebook page or send a tweet to @CPExecutive or @JFiur.

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