How Repurposing the Parking Lot is Revitalizing Retail

In his book ReThinking A Lot, city planner and urban designer Eran Ben-Joseph writes that, in some cities, parking lots cover more than one-third of the metropolitan footprint. That’s a lot of parking. However, with more people accustomed to and satisfied with making purchases online, many parking spaces are under-utilized. This trend is unlikely to go away, which begs the question: How can existing space in the parking lot be used for long-term gain?

REPURPOSING YOUR PARKING LOT

The answer lies in looking at your parking lot differently. While it’s true that e-commerce is a staple for every American consumer, people still crave physical spaces to shop, dine, and play. The parking lot can have a role in all of it.

To enhance its original design and functionality, many parking lots are being retrofitted to incorporate curbside pickup/delivery areas. It is also common for property owners to lease square footage in the parking lot to pop-up vendors such as florists or other seasonal merchants. Restaurants are raising tents in the parking lot to create socially distanced, open-air dining options. All of which are great, revenue-generating uses for empty asphalt.

But perhaps less typical is repurposing parking lot space for communal gathering areas such as entertainment venues or parks and play areas. Strange as it sounds, these ideas are gaining momentum among retail designers and architects.

THINK OUTSIDE THE PARKING SPACE

When properly utilized, every square foot of retail asphalt has the potential to bring in revenue. With new design and layout considerations, your parking lot can accommodate more than vehicle traffic. It can attract foot traffic that can be strategically directed to flow into existing retail spaces.

TURNING SHORT TERM INTO LONG TERM

Not sure where to start? It may be as simple as assessing your parking lot assets. What is the existing layout? If you have straight-in parking, consider a new configuration. Angled and parallel parking spaces fit more cars in less area. Re-striping with this layout leaves plenty of room to expand curbside and drive-thru pickup zones. It also increases the available footprint to incorporate outdoor dining and other communal gathering places.


While the retail industry is rapidly changing, the parking lot remains a critical component to successful operations. With the right design, it can boost brand loyalty, drive up revenue, and serve as a safe and efficient use of space. Our team is here to help. Ready? Let’s Pave.

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