December 13, 2019
It’s happening overseas in cities such as Sofia—where they hold Black Friday sales the day after a holiday that Bulgaria doesn’t actually celebrate—and it’s happening here, too. Although commercial landlords might not see themselves tooling through the streets on electric scooters, they’re embracing the movement that has seen startups such as Lime and Bird achieve private valuations of greater than $2 billion.
Writing in Fortune magazine’s Term Sheet newsletter, Rey Mashayekhi saw a mutually beneficial business relationship between micromobility startups and large-scale owners. “In e-scooters and micro-mobility schemes like bikeshares, real estate developers and investors see a solution to the car parking conundrum,” he wrote. “At Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in July, Lime chief business officer David Richter said he’s ‘been surprised at the degree to which real estate entities want [micromobility] to happen.’
“ They will get greater value from the real estate they already own because they will not have to allow ‘X’ number of parking spaces for people who are either residing or leasing space [at their properties],’ Richter said.”
Jay Friedeck, managing director of asset management at Chicago-based multifamily investor Magnolia Capital, concurred. “If you’re developing [real estate] projects, partnerships with micromobility companies give you better flexibility to reduce the number of parking spaces that you have to put in at a building,” Friedeck told Term Sheet. And with more urban-dwelling millennials eschewing car culture entirely in favor of a more walkable lifestyle, it provide options for residents who don’t have a car, he added.
However, Mashayekhi wrote that perhaps probably the most fascinating aspect of the relationship between scooters and apartment developers is the willingness on behalf of the landlords to embrace a brand new, unregulated business that’s usually under attack from city officials.
As Charles Lancaster, of Washington, DC-based developer Gould Property Company, put it: “The way to be a part of the future is to embrace future technologies—so that we can disrupt ourselves.”
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