A Daily Look at the Movers and Shakers in Commercial Real Estate
As ParkMobile, an app that helps drivers find and pay for parking spaces, continues to expand into new markets and add new users, CEO Jon Ziglar sees even more opportunity in mixed-use developments.
The major developments in dense urban and affluent suburban areas incorporate several uses such as retail, office and residential units whose customers, tenants and visitors need parking spaces.
Ziglar said that his firm helps parking operators hired by landlords and owners of commercial properties create more revenue.”Our business with commercial real estate and real estate is very robust,” Ziglar said in an interview. “If it’s easier to pay for parking, more people are going to pay for parking.
“For landlords and owners, utilizing ParkMobile’s technology at its properties is free. ParkMobile makes money by charging its users a convenience fee when they use it to pay for parking. Several cities have replaced unsightly parking meters with a ParkMobile system that centers on a few centralized payment points in each parking zone, Ziglar said.
The 10-year-old ParkMobile, which German automaker BMW Group acquired in 2018 after already having owned a minority stake, now has more than 18 million users. That means one of every 13 drivers in the country has the mobile application, according to the company. The app can be used in over 400 cities, including Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Miami, and Atlanta, where it’s based.
ParkMobile partners with cities to provide technology that allows drivers to find, reserve and pay for parking on their smart phone or tablet. Entities such as the Philadelphia Parking Authority and New York City Department of Transportation have tapped ParkMobile to implement its smart mobility app. In the Washington, D.C., area alone, more than 3 million people use the app, Ziglar said.
In February, ParkMobile announced it had hired John Brown, formerly of monthly car subscription company Clutch Technologies, as chief operating officer to help scale the business and manage its rapid growth. After entering 70 new markets in 2019, ParkMobile expects to reach 22 million users this year. The company has about 200 employees.
“With urban populations skyrocketing and roadways becoming increasingly more congested, cities must reimagine transportation ecosystems and seek innovative solutions to better serve their residents and visitors,” Brown said in a corporate statement.
As ParkMobile continues to add more cities such as River Hood, Oregon, it sees new opportunity in adding its services to properties across the country. The firm recently reached an agreement to have its parking technology implemented at Westside Provisions in Atlanta, where the company also provides parking technology services to the Ponce City Market mixed-use development owned by global commercial property firm Jamestown. ParkMobile also provides parking technology at Stamford Town Center in Connecticut and Rice Village in Houston.
At Ponce City Market, ParkMobile allows its office tenants to buy monthly parking passes or to pay only a few times a week if they frequently travel or work from home. Ziglar said his firm’s system allows property owners to align the number of parking spaces with demand, which often can be fluid. For instance, the coronavirus pandemic likely will impact how and where people work, Ziglar said.
“You’re going to see a lot more telecommuting as people find out they can be efficient at doing it,” he said.
While ride sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft have lessened the need for parking at hotels and to some extent airports, demand in normal times remains high, especially in urban areas as more millennials move intown, Ziglar said.
“We have not seen a need for parking decrease,” he said. “In cities and downtown areas there is still more need for parking than parking is available.”
“Stay-at-home orders aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus have affected demand, but retail and mixed-use owners can maximize revenue using effective parking management when consumers hit the streets again,” Ziglar said.
Parking operators can set up zones directly in front of stores, at premium prices, that offer short-term parking for shoppers who want to run in, grab something and go. Long-term parking zones are established farther away at lower hourly rates. “It enables you to set up smarter turnover,” Ziglar said.
Ziglar, who joined ParkMobile nearly five years ago, said he’s enjoying the ride as his company grows at a fast clip. ParkMobile is now one of the top downloaded navigation applications in Apple’s App Store and Google Play. A native of the D.C. region who also has lived in Northern California’s Bay Area, Ziglar said Atlanta has grown on him and his family. “We would never have said 19 years ago that we would be here for 19 years,” Ziglar said. “It’s been great to us.”
Working from home during the pandemic has some upside, too, he said. “I love getting to see my kids a lot more,” Ziglar said.