The highly competitive marketplace for car parking spaces in government buildings is set for a major shake-up after an online start up that cashes-in on spare or unused spaces in office buildings revealed it has secured partnerships with three of Australia’s biggest commercial property firms.
Known as Divvy, the online and smartphone enabled service allows tens of thousands of parking spaces in office blocks that would otherwise be left unfilled to be matched up via the equivalent of Airbnb for drivers and space owner.
Divvy on Tuesday announced that had inked deals with GPT Group, DEXUS Property Group and Knight Frank as well as raising an additional $2.5 million in new capital via a Series A funding round – though it’s not yet disclosing its backers.
The entry of Australia’s top tier commercial property players into the so-called sharing economy is a major development for both councils and government building owners and lessees because it has the potential to dramatically increase capacity utilisation of off-street parking that is frequently occupied well below 50 per cent of the time.
In New South Wales, the state government has already set about rebalancing its commercial property book by selling off older offices that are expensive to run and maintain in favour of leasing newer, energy efficient and multi-use facilities that can more easily adjust to the changing needs of tenants.
At the same time NSW Finance, Services and Property Minister Dominic Perrottet has also switched the state government’s position on owning its vehicle fleet to leasing vehicles as well as trialling car-share services like GoGet for ad hoc trips to free up capital.
Under the Divvy model, unused government car parking spaces could potentially be put back into the market for either a rental discount or a commercial return if owned by a department or agency.
It is understood that the combination of moving to a combined lease-fleet and shared-space parking model is of substantial appeal to parts of the NSW government because it could provide an elegant solution to harnessing what is presently acres of free car parking space going to waste.
One option believed to have been bowled-up is to allow some government employees the option of salary sacrificing car spaces before they are put to an open market. Government News has been told such a move would potentially be aimed at working parents needing to do child pick-ups looking that might commute during off peak.
However Nick Austin, the founder and chief executive of Divvy, is viewing dealing with the government through a wider lens than just putting empty spaces to work.
Importantly, Austin sees the potential for optimal capacity utilisation and the creation of a new market as a way to ease traffic congestion so that people have a wider range of transit options.
“We see a real opportunity for state governments to benefit from the technology and partnerships that are being created. As built environments evolve at a rapid rate, the pressure on existing infrastructure increases, and if today’s cities are to be the smart cities of the future, we must adopt new technology solutions,” Mr Austin told Government News.
“We see synergies to work with state governments to improve access to public transport through improved parking around transport hubs. Divvy is keen to be a part of this vision.”
In a move separate to the deals with GPT, DEXUS and Knight Frank, Divvy says it has also recently inked a deal with Inlink, a major provider of office tower tenant services which Divvy says potentially opens the company’s “pipeline of buildings up to a further 50 per cent of the commercial office tower market.”
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