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Which is most cost effective – parking lots or parking garages?

By September 23, 2022Parking

The average person does not think about the cost effectiveness of the parking garage or lot they are parking in. However, the type of infrastructure built is specific to the area in which it is located. 

Parking garages are multiple story buildings built in a spiral shape, allowing more cars to park in the same amount of space as a parking lot. Typically, parking garages are found in larger cities, although they are not limited to these areas; many small towns with land restrictions often build upwards to create more space. 

Parking lots are only one level and many times are fenced in with an entrance and exit gate. The earliest parking lot known in the United States was built in 1918 and since then, parking has changed drastically with the introduction of multi-level parking garages as well as garages fully operated by AI. However, even with the progressive changes in the industry, parking lots are still being built in many parts of America. 

Building Costs

As expected, parking lots are typically much more cost effective to build than parking garages.

  • The average up-front cost to build a parking lot is between $3-4 per square foot and the average parking lot lasts around 20 to 30 years. 
  • The average cost to build a parking garage is around $97 per square foot. With regular maintenance, a garage can last as long as a parking lot but upkeep costs are high – regular surface coating, inspections and re-caulking of the concrete for cracks and leaks, and replacing expansion joints every few years is imperative to preventing structural issues. 

Since a parking lot has fewer components than a parking garage does, that in turn means maintenance costs will also be lower. That said, most parking garages are able to charge more for parking as they are easier to secure and they can also keep vehicles out of the weather. In snowy or rainy climates this can be a big plus. 

In conclusion, parking lots are more cost effective than parking garages but this does not mean that parking lots are necessarily a better investment. The decision on whether to build a parking lot or parking garage should be based upon the location and the demand for the parking facility, as well as the average parking rates in the area so that facility owners can properly determine if building a garage would be cost-effective. 

Whether you want to set up a parking lot or build a parking garage, choose Roker for your management solutions.

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