201 Isabella

“Parkade is the perfect office parking system.”

Stephen Gleason

President, Kairos Real Estate

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“Parkade is the perfect office parking system.”

Stephen Gleason

President, Kairos Real Estate

BUILDING Name(S)
201 Isabella
parkade launch
2022
MANAGEMENT COMPANY
Kairos Property Management
Location
Pittsburgh, PA
BUILDING SIZE
Commercial office (267,000 sq ft)
# parking spots
197
Published:
February 17, 2023

Kairos Real Estate creates new parking options for office tenants with Parkade

Goals
Decrease staff workload
Increase parking revenue
Increase parking utilization
Improve resident experience
Improve employee experience
Increase parking reliability
Improve parking behavior
RESULTS

15%

Increase in revenue
(after fees)

18%

Increase in parking utilization

513

Employees using Parkade

85%

Fewer misparked cars

$126K

Annual NOI improvement

40

Avg spots shared among tenants / day

Background

201 Isabella is one of Pittsburgh’s most striking and desirable office buildings. Being smack downtown is a significant appeal, but it comes with a major downside: Limited parking. There are only 197 parking spots for the 500+ employees who work at the three companies housed there.

For decades, management has offered monthly parking at a cost of just over $100/mo. Demand was so great, though, that employees often waited more than 10 years for a parking spot. 

With hybrid work on the rise, employees — especially since COVID — have been coming into the office less frequently and on less consistent schedules. That made little difference in monthly parking demand though, as even employees who only came in 2-3 days each week opted to keep to their valuable monthly parking lease. 

After all, on the days they come in, they need reliable parking.

This led to increasing frustration from Isabella’s tenants, especially on days the garage appeared empty, as those lacking monthly parking paid $15-20/day to park blocks away. 

The Challenge

The first attempt to solve these problems was hiring a parking attendant to manually fill the spaces they thought would be available. This was based on a mix of judgment calls by the on-site parking attendant and a physical board in the garage employees tried to update with their schedules. 

If a spot was occupied when the rightful owner did come into the office, the attendant had to shuffle cars on a moment’s notice. This required commuters to leave their keys with the attendant or in the vehicle, which presented security and liability risks.

This solution was not only unwieldy, but unreliable. Employees who were looking for daily parking never knew if there would be a spot for them when they arrived at work. 

When they did run out of space, the process was — shall we say — “old school.” The attendant would flip a lightswitch and a big bulb outside the parking garage would change from green to red. Employees arriving to a red parking light would have to do a U-turn and find parking nearby.

Lucas Torrico, who works in the building, said “the daily parking used to be full every day” by the time he arrived at Isabella. Fellow Isabella tenant Henry Thomas had a similar experience, and had to adjust his entire commute schedule around parking.

“Prior to Parkade I had to leave for work in the morning extremely early in order to have any chance of getting a spot,” he said.

Additionally, billing and payments were archaic. 

Management was manually tracking fob swipes at the parking gate, and then exporting that data monthly — if they remembered to do so. After some spreadsheet massaging to tally swipes per employer over their daily limit, daily parking fees were then billed to each commercial office tenant, who then in turn would adjust their employees’ next paycheck to add a deduction for their parking charges. 

It was a messy and manual process for everyone. 

Making matters worse, once COVID hit, monthly parking usage plummeted even though almost no one gave up their monthly parking lease. It became pretty common to see 200 or more people working in the building but only 50 cars in the garage. 

“An amenity should be measured by how well it’s being utilized, and our parking amenity was not providing value” Stephen Gleason, president of Kairos Property Management, told us. 

“We need more parking” was the common phrase heard by management. As the companies were trying to get their employees back to the office, the lack of on-site parking was making it hard to entice commuters to come back. During the winter months, less daylight and harsher weather increased the demand for parking within the building, so the team knew they needed to address the issue sooner rather than later.

Kairos purchased the building in 2022, and they were eager to upgrade amenities for their tenants and improve NOI for their investors. Determined to find a better way to manage parking, Gleason did a quick online search and landed on Parkade, where he immediately saw the value it could deliver to 201 Isabella. 

Rollout

Launching Parkade allowed Isabella to get the best of all worlds: 

  • They eliminated the parking attendant position
  • Monthly leaseholders kept their parking spots, but could easily sublet them when not at work
  • The 10 parking spots management didn’t lease out long-term could be reserved ahead of time, via the Parkade mobile app
  • All parking payments, vehicle records and unauthorized parking reports could be handled by Parkade’s mobile app
  • Parking could be paid for with credit/debit cards or pre-tax commuter benefits, allowing Kairos to raise parking rates
  • Integrated gate access, allowing those with a valid parking reservation to open the gate on arrival

With some employees having parked in the same spot for decades, these were significant changes. Parkade took the lead on communicating the rollout, providing template messaging for management to send out and answering any questions that arose from tenants or their staff.

By the official rollout date, 90+% of employees had downloaded Parkade and parking records, payments and vehicle records were transitioned to Parkade’s system.

 “All of our tenants were glad to get away from collecting payments from employees,” said Jeremy Wolfset, Kairos’ vice president of property management. 

Reserved parking had previously been a barrier to ensuring parking was meeting tenants needs. Now, Parkade’s flexible system made reserved parking work like a dream: Employees with monthly parking always had reliable parking, but could reshare their spot on days they didn’t need it, lowering their parking costs. 

Gleason describes Parkade as a “perfect system for a self-park garage.” 

The Results

Vastly improved parking utilization

For Isabella, the impact of rolling out Parkade could be seen immediately, on rollout day. The garage, which previously often only had 50 cars parked, now had close to 100! 

From rollout day onward, all of the building’s 10 daily parking spots were booked and paid for in the Parkade app. Even more impactful, each day, long-term parkers have been subleasing an average of 40 vehicles to additional daily parkers. 

Employees who work at Isabella have quickly taken to Parkade — and the better, more affordable and more reliable parking experience they now have each day. 

Devin Giambroni, an employee at Isabella, said “it has made parking so much easier. It was always a gamble if I could obtain a parking spot each morning. Now, I know when I can and can’t park in the building ahead of time. And this has opened up so many more spots to us daily parkers than previously.”

More building revenue

All of the work managing empty spots or tracking payments was automated. Instead of the parking attendant tracking or guessing whether an employee was out of office, monthly parkers opt in to share their spot — and make money when they do so. 

So, within a few weeks, the parking attendant position was eliminated, saving Kairos $100,000 each year, while offering tenants a better experience. Additionally, Kairos is now collecting $2,500/mo from daily parking and its cut of subleasing revenue, improving NOI — with zero work. 

The money rolls in automatically each month without their team lifting a finger.

Happier residents

And for employees, it’s a way better experience. When asked if parking is easier now that Parkade’s system is up and running, Gambroni eagerly replied, “Yes, 1000%!” And when questions do arise, Gambroni shared that “Parkade’s customer service is insanely fast and helpful!”

Tenants initially worried what would happen if an employee found an unauthorized vehicle in their parking spot. However, the few times that occurs, Parkade’s app makes it easy for them to submit a report and get assigned a new spot in seconds, without talking to anybody. 

The rollout has even caused indirect benefits, like a marked increase in security, now that all parkers and vehicle records are tracked. Lori Boucher, who works at Isabella, said Parkade “is really easy to use, and I feel much safer parking in the building.”

Parkade’s parking-gate integration — which allows employees with a valid parking reservation to open the parking gate from their smartphone — is an especially useful upgrade, not just for safety, but for employee experience in general. 

Previously, an employee's first day started with parking nearby and trying to buzz into the building without a fob. Now, on an employee’s first day of work at Isabella, they can confidently book parking ahead of time and open the gate on arrival, even before they’ve gone through new-employee orientation or received their fob. 

For Kairos, Parkade has provided that rare trifecta for new ownership: Massive P&L improvement, a major amenity upgrade and less work for the on-site team. 

“I don’t know why you’d consider anything else — Parkade is the perfect office parking system.” 

“For anyone considering upgrading their building’s parking, rolling out Parkade is just a no brainer,” Gleason said.

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