The Hottest Real Estate? Curb Space for Uber Pickups

November 29, 2017 • Source: Bisnow • Posted in: Market News

As technology brings us Uber, Lyft and self-driving cars, there may be decreased need for parking garages — but more need for designated pickup/drop-off points, similar to cab stands.

As CNN put it, "some of the hottest real estate in cities right now is curbspace." CNN reports that Uber recently worked with the City of Fort Lauderdale to identify hot spots for pickups and drop-offs on Las Olas Boulevard, one of the city's main drags. The street is undergoing a retail renaissance, as new stores and restaurants have opened to meet demand from an influx of downtown residents.

A June report by the Downtown Development Authority noted that there were 1,663 residential units under construction and another 5,459 approved units in the development pipeline. 1,663 residential units, 93K SF of retail and 16K SF of office space under construction, with another 5,459 residential units approved that have yet to break ground and another 3,735 units in the development pipeline.

Fort Lauderdale is set to launch a six-month pilot project that converts 18 parking spots into three designated pickup and drop-off zones during nights and weekends. The city's mobility project manager, Catherine Prince, said it is possible that ride-sharing companies may be asked to contribute funds to make up for revenue lost at the parking spaces. Fort Lauderdale already has designated pickup areas for ride-share drivers at the airport. Nearby, the Miami Marlins have partnered with Uber to create pickup/drop-off zones for home games.

In San Francisco, Mayor Ed Lee this month struck a deal to let Uber and Lyft use city curb space in to-be-determined areas in exchange for the companies' traffic data, which is coveted by city planners everywhere.

D.C. is experimenting at Dupont Circle, converting 61 parking spaces as drop-off zones on weekends. The program, which began in October, will be evaluated after a year. CityLab reported that there are 100 licensed alcohol vendors in DuPont's Connecticut Avenue corridor, with a combined capacity of 17,000, and that cars are known to triple-park when people spill out of clubs at closing time on a busy night.

Even in Arkansas, Uber drivers have complained of congestion following big events like football games. Officials in Fayetteville declined to create a drop-off/pickup point close to the stadium at the University of Arkansas, but did designate other ride-sharing points nearby.

But not all cities think that the ride-sharing companies deserve special space. In Santa Monica, officials said Lyft and Uber already have an unfair advantage over cab drivers, who are given allotted curb space but are highly regulated by the municipality, whereas Lyft and Uber are not. Critics also pointed out that, because Uber cars do not stand out like yellow taxis, any driver could pull in and out of designated drop-off spots, making them pointless.

Meanwhile, Uber is developing an "Express Pool" program that directs riders to "smart spots" where they can be picked up easily. These smart spots let drivers stay near main corridors and save time. A rider can save some 25% of the ride cost by coming to the smart spot rather than getting picked up at an out-of-the-way or congested point, and by sharing the ride with other passengers. This program recently launched in Boston and San Francisco and is on tap for additional cities. 

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