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No Free Parking

Parking places in Boston are going for as much as $160,000 reports the AP:

The escalating cost of parking, long a premium in Boston, hit home for many when it was learned that a 180-square-foot parking spot sold last month for $160,000 at the Brimmer Street Garage in the Beacon Hill neighborhood.

As prices for some spaces exceed the cost of a single-family house in other parts of the state, even seasoned real estate agents are muttering, “Whoa.”

I’m not sure what that “whoa” means. I think it’s supposed to mean that things are “out of control” or can’t persist. But my guess is that an 1800 square foot place in Beacon Hill sells for at least $1.6 million. So the parking space price is presumably the going rate. And the parking space does come with a valet.

My wife raises the question of property rights. What does it mean to own a space in a garage? Do you own it in perpetuity? What happens if the garage burns down? I wonder what the contract looks like.

I also wonder why you would buy a space rather than rent it. Maybe it’s to maximize the value of the entire garage. Maybe you don’t get your “own” space. Maybe you just get the right to park in the garage and that lets the garage sell space when people are away or to use the garage more efficiently. Otherwise, maybe a spot would be $200,000. I assume you can lease the spot you own. What an interesting way to invest in land—buy an out of town parking space and lease it to someone.

Here is a wonderful essay by Fred McChesney on how Chicagoans create property rights in parking on the street in the winter.


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