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Development as a leading indicator

Building new buildings takes a really long time. It is not uncommon for development timelines to to span 5-10 years, and sometimes even longer. It is particularly frustrating when you see unnecessary roadblocks and delays throughout the process. But that’s a topic for another post.

Perhaps one of the positives of these timelines is that they force you to think well into the future. Take for example electric vehicles. Most car manufacturers have already announced aggressive electrification targets for the year 2030.

What that means is that if you’re starting a new project today, you have to assume that it will be completed into a world where many more people will be coming home and plugging in their car. Perhaps it will be the majority of people. So you probably need to plan for that.

Another way to think about development is that it is a leading indicator for what’s coming. If we stick with the example of cars and parking, I think it’s pretty clear that parking is becoming increasingly scarce in our biggest cities. The pressures are simply too great.

In all of our Toronto projects, we are currently building no more than about 0.4 parking spaces per suite. And there’s pressure to bring this number down even further. There are lots of examples of zero parking. The biggest reason is costs, but we also know that big cities don’t function well when everyone is driving around.

This is also not a new trend.

If you look at the multi-family buildings that Toronto completed in and around the 60s and 70s, many will have parking ratios in the range of 1-2 parking spaces per suite. This is totally untenable in today’s environment (except for a small subset of the market) and I bet you that a lot of this parking is now sitting vacant.

Things change. Development can sometimes tell you what those changes might be.

Photo by Michael Fousert on Unsplash

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