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Landlord looks to reduce car ownership by buying a shared car for its tenants

Posted by on May 23rd, 2014 at 9:53 am

shared car division

The shared car at 3330 SE Division Street is marketed to UDP residents but rentable by anyone.
(Photo by M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Real Estate Beat is sponsored by Portlandia Home

The local developer and landlord that in 2011 reintroduced zero-auto-parking-apartment buildings to the city after a 60-year absence is seeing success with another innovation: it’s bought a car for its buildings’ residents to share.

Urban Development Partners, whose Move the House Apartments project at 38th and Division inspired dozens of copycats around the city, says the car, a 2012 Subaru Forester that UDP has shared using the Getaround peer-to-peer carsharing service, is covering its own costs and seems to be helping motivate UDP tenants to give up their cars.

The car rents to anyone, whether or not they’re a UDP tenant, for $5 per hour or $35 per day, plus gas and a $1 transaction fee. Just as other car-sharing companies such as Zipcar do, the developer pays the city a few hundred dollars per year for a reserved parking space directly in front of the 35-unit building at 3330 SE Division St.

UDP spokeswoman Neely Wells said this week that since the car went online last winter, three new tenants have said it was a “key reason” they chose the unit, and that four households that moved into the building with two cars have sold one of their two.

Wells says the company’s goal is to free up parking spaces in a crowded neighborhood while providing an amenity that helps their tenants save money. One-bedrooms at 3330 SE Division average $1395. There are zero vacancies.

“We’ve always wanted to be in a high-transit area where people were using public transportation, walking, riding bikes,” Wells said. “And we struggled for a couple years on how we could actually affect the number of cars in the neighborhood. … We feel the parking pain. our neighbors talk about it frequently. Our tenants talk about it. We’re concerned on behalf of our retailers.”

Wells said about 2/3 of the tenants at 3330 currently own cars.

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Wells said Getaround’s local manager, Steve Gutmann, was essential in making the deal happen.

“Steve was just phenomenal in figuring out what the hoops were,” Wells said. “Our insurance agency was like, ‘You can’t do that. that’s impossible. And then Getaround got on the phone and explained whatever it was they explained. and they said, ‘OK!'”

Getaround is a California-based startup that essentially allows anyone to turn their car into a Zipcar. It makes money by collecting part of the cost of each transaction. Insurance is included in user fees, so a Getaround driver doesn’t need to have outside insurance. The company launched in Portland in 2012 and currently offers the most shared vehicles of any local carsharing service.

Neely said UDP has marketed the car by offering a $25 voucher to tenants at move-in, by posting marketing materials in their Division Street buildings and inviting commercial tenants and their employees to use it, too. Neely said it currently gets reservations about four days a week, which is enough to cover its depreciation, maintenance and parking costs.

Across the street at 3360 Division, a new 30-unit UDP building that will open in August has already leased out all but seven of its units. Neely said it’s possible that if tenants there use the car frequently, they might need to purchase another.

“It would be a huge success if eventually we needed a small group of vehicles,” she said. “We care about the neighborhood and if we can think of a way to affect it positively, then our general answer is to do so.”

— The Real Estate Beat is a weekly column sponsored by real estate broker Lyudmila Leissler of Portlandia Home/Windermere Real Estate. Let Mila help you find the best bike-friendly home.

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Tessa
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Tessa

Interesting. At ATS last month Dennis Allen from Zidell Yards talked about trying to do this a couple of years ago and running into barriers with insurance. I wonder what’s changed here?

Joseph E
Guest

$5 an hour and $35 a day are great deals. The cheapest airport rentals are sometimes as little as $20 a day, but if you add insurance the cost quickly reaches $35 a day. If any of the new buildings in the Hollywood area want to add a car like this, I would love to use occasionally, as well.

John Liu
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John Liu

I appreciate seeing a developer going the extra mile like this. They sure didn’t have to do it, not with zero vacancy rate.

Sho
Guest
Sho

Conveniently it also helps if they are going for LEED points due to the necessity for a car-share space required and if they own the car share program then they can control the space, since they have now reserved a space specific to their business and not alternates like zipcar. It’s kind of a sneaky to extend your property/development.

Art Fuldodger
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Art Fuldodger

If the gas isn’t included, do you need to fill it up before return every time?

Reza
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Reza

2/3 of the tenants have cars. Instead of passing along the savings of not building a garage to their tenants, these developers reap the profits and externalize the costs of building car storage to the rest of us, by taking advantage of free, subsidized on-street parking. They keep building these zero-parking apartments, and tenants are still showing up with cars. Why is that? Do we need a more robust transit or bicycle network? Would legalizing rideshare help?

This token gesture does not somehow make things right.

Peter W
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Peter W

Great idea, since it adds value to the neighborhood as well.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

Nice of UDP to have mounted bike racks on the Forester. Most conventional and Zipcar rentals lack the ability to transport bicycles with more than two adults (or with more than one child) in the car.

Dwaine Dibbly
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Dwaine Dibbly

It’s a creative solution. I hope it works out, but even if it doesn’t, I give UDP credit for trying something outside the box. If the car is indeed paying for itself, then this is an amenity that UDP can offer without any effect on the rent. It makes the units more desirable. Smart business move.

Matthew Rogers
Guest

Sounds like an awesome way to promote appropriately-sized mobility access for when the building residents need a car for whatever reason.

I wonder how many automobiles the building (or group of buildings) would need to “control” such that, say, 90% of car/truck/van demand was covered by these shared vehicles?

SteveG
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SteveG

Matthew-

Practically anyone can post a car, truck or van on Getaround and rent it out to their car-free neighbors. The car has to be in decent shape,with less than 150k miles and it must be no older than a ’95. UDP is the first developer to do this, but hundreds of individuals in Portland are also renting out their cars.

My car earned me about $75 this week when it otherwise have just sat there. IMO this is a massively scaleable way to increase the city-wide supply of inexpensive shared cars.

Matt
Guest
Matt

*his tenants

007
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007

AWESOME IDEA!