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Dedication to your car: a $300,000 parking space.
June 11, 2009 12:07 PM   Subscribe

"There's only so many parking spaces in the city," said Sordillo. "And in this part, there's very few." A private parking space in Boston's Back Bay area sold for $300,000.
posted by jaimev (60 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The winning bidder did not want to be identified, she said.

SHOCKING!!!
posted by blue_beetle at 12:09 PM on June 11, 2009


The High Cost of Free Parking (discussed here and here)
posted by Pants! at 12:10 PM on June 11, 2009


Proof that cars in Boston are for losers
posted by Muffpub at 12:22 PM on June 11, 2009


The waiting list for the Brimmer Street Garage on the flat of Beacon Hill is notorious.

Five years ago: "...five of the 110 spaces at the three-story garage have been sold for sums between $144,500 and $167,500."
posted by ericb at 12:28 PM on June 11, 2009


Brimmer Street Parking Garage Investment Facts:
"A single deeded garage parking space at the Brimmer Street Garage has increased in value by approximately 97% since the year 2000 when the average sales price was approximately $110,000 to sales prices that are now consistently in excess of $200,000. Given the limited supply of parking spaces on Beacon Hill, and the excessive demand for quality garage parking, owning a parking space in the Brimmer Street Garage represents not only a sound home for an automobile, but a sound investment as well."
posted by ericb at 12:30 PM on June 11, 2009


Structured parking (above ground, multi-story parking garage) is often cost-estimated by the number of stalls. Roughly, the cost is 20 - 25k per stall; underground runs around 45k. YMMV.
posted by xod at 12:34 PM on June 11, 2009


A few years ago there were parking spaces selling in a brand new garage in Boston that were like condos. You didn't rent them monthly, you bought them and got the permanent right to one space. Each one was several hundred grand; people were taking out huge mortgages for them.

There was a great quote in a Globe article about them, some woman basically saying "it was either the parking space or a vacation home on the Cape. We decided we'd only use the vacation home a few times a year, but the parking space we can use all the time." And then some joking about taking a vacation and pitching a tent in your quarter-million-dollar parking space.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:38 PM on June 11, 2009


If you are John Kerry and Theresa Hynes, you pay to have a fire hydrant moved from in front of your Beacon Hill mansion, so that you can park street-side in the very private and tony Louisburg Square.
posted by ericb at 12:40 PM on June 11, 2009


How many cab rides will you get for $300 000?
posted by PenDevil at 12:41 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Ericb's link had at least one of the quotes I was remembering in it.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:41 PM on June 11, 2009


How many cab rides will you get for $300 000?

Why not just hire a dedicated driver and town car from Boston Car to drive you around?
posted by ericb at 12:44 PM on June 11, 2009


I live in Boston. For years, I paid enormous insurance premiums, parking tickets, and occasional tow fees. I would come home from work and circle the block for hours waiting for an open space. Sometimes all I could find was a meter space, so I'd get up early the next morning to move the car before the meters started. It was headache after headache.

A few years ago, I sold the car and got a Zipcar membership. I'm so much happier.
posted by swerve at 12:55 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


A number of years ago I used to rent two parking spaces ($300 each/month). I was stupid. Ditched the second car ... and now park street side. Use the "T" especially on Wednesday - Sunday nights. Otherwise, I'm doing the 45 minute/ 1 hour drive around (like swerve) looking for an open spot at midnight, or so. It's all part of city living, I guess.
posted by ericb at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2009


Geezus christ... I'm sitting here just thinking of better uses for $300,000. Hell, I can't even fathom how much humanitarian aid that would buy for some parts of the world.
posted by crapmatic at 1:01 PM on June 11, 2009


Hey, if you're got it, you might as well fl- *twitches, shudders* FL-

FLATTEN A PIECE OF GROUND COVER IT WITH PULVERIZED ROCK WAIT FOR IT TO HARDEN AND THEN PUT YOUR INCREDIBLY INCONVENIENT CAR ON IT BECAUSE WHO KNOWS IF YOU'LL ACTUALLY HAVE A PARKING SPOT AVAILABLE AT THE OTHER END OF YOUR DRIVE
posted by adipocere at 1:06 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'll shovel it out for $50k.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:08 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Wow, glad I live in a rust belt city. I got a whole house with a garage in the middle of a city for 2/3 of that.
posted by octothorpe at 1:11 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


The very next snowfall we get in this fine city, I'm going to go stick a folding chair and an upside-down garbage barrel on that space. That's how you own a parking spot in Boston.
posted by Spatch at 1:18 PM on June 11, 2009 [9 favorites]


I hope they drive a 93 Metro. Ha!
posted by QueerAngel28 at 1:20 PM on June 11, 2009


I'm going to go stick a folding chair and an upside-down garbage barrel on that space.

X still marks the spot!
posted by ericb at 1:42 PM on June 11, 2009


If you paid $100 day normally to park, that's like, a thousand years of parking.

There are so many things I'd like to do with $300,000, but parking doesn't even top my list.
posted by misha at 2:33 PM on June 11, 2009


When I lived in Boston, and worked near Downtown Crossing, my boss once got bored of sitting in line in her car, waiting for a space to free up in the garage near the bike messenger Starbucks, so she called me in the office and made me walk over and sit in her car for her.

Really.

That's what parking in downtown Boston is like. (Sigh).

I'd still move back in a heartbeat.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 3:29 PM on June 11, 2009


The very next snowfall we get in this fine city, I'm going to go stick a folding chair and an upside-down garbage barrel on that space. That's how you own a parking spot in Boston.

HA. That wouldn't last you five minutes. Not exaggerating. You leave that spot, I don't care what you put in there, if it's a legal spot it'll get cleared out and taken.

But come on, you know the rules: just because you dig it out doesn't mean it's yours. It just means you were the one who needed his car the most, first. If you can't stand to walk around for a couple of days while the snow melts, well, too bad for you. Putting a chair there doesn't make it yours. Putting your car there makes it yours.

I used to live a block from the Common. Did the drive-around-in-a-circle-for-45-minutes thing for a year. Then wised up and learned about the double-park-with-your-flashers-waiting-like-a-vulture-for-someone-to-leave maneuver. Then I broke down and got a space under the park. That motherfucker costs more per square foot than my apartment.

$300,000? Not in the least bit surprised.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:54 PM on June 11, 2009


If you paid $100 day normally to park, that's like, a thousand years of parking.

ARITHMETIC FAIL

HA. That wouldn't last you five minutes. Not exaggerating. You leave that spot, I don't care what you put in there, if it's a legal spot it'll get cleared out and taken.

Sounds like somebody's fixin' to get their tires stabbed.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:59 PM on June 11, 2009


Photo of the $300,000 parking space.
posted by ericb at 4:25 PM on June 11, 2009


You leave that spot, I don't care what you put in there, if it's a legal spot it'll get cleared out and taken.

In East Boston, the North End or South Boston taking that spot is an invitation to get your tires slashed!
posted by ericb at 4:30 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or, what Horace Rumpole said!
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on June 11, 2009


I'm just going to say that hearing all of these stories about parking in larger cities really makes me appreciate every place I've ever lived. I don't think anywhere in the world is awesome enough to be worth spending 45 minutes of your daily life parking.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:19 PM on June 11, 2009


I live in the Back Bay and friends who have come in from outside the city to visit often ask "Is there parking near your house?"

Yeah, I'm still laughing.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:03 PM on June 11, 2009


Having never been East of Houston (except to Europe), I'm curious. How practical is it to live in Boston without a car? I guess there's ZipCar for one, but if you have to walk 15 miles to the nearest ZipCar location, that's still pretty impractical. How good is the public transit there?
posted by !Jim at 6:49 PM on June 11, 2009


!Jim: If a parking space sells for 300,000, I'm guessing it's not so hot.
posted by Decimask at 7:20 PM on June 11, 2009


How good is the public transit there?

The 'first' public transit ever in the U.S. ... and quite extensive.
posted by ericb at 7:23 PM on June 11, 2009


Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (aka MBTA, previously the MTA, and now "The T" to locals).

"Charlie on the M.T.A."

Hence, today's Charlie Card.

Related: MBTA sues to keep MIT students from telling how they cracked the CharlieCard.

Previous MeFi FPP: MIT Hackers Restrained.
posted by ericb at 7:37 PM on June 11, 2009


Well I live way way out in the sticks - literally a 10 min drive from that parking space (Arlington, assuming no gridlock traffic) and the apartment has parking enough for four cars. There a rational parking options a 10 minute walk away from that location. Beacon Hill and Backbay are just crazy and if you deeply need to live right in the middle, there are tradeoffs, but you almost would not need to take the subway, that's walk to work territory.
posted by sammyo at 7:38 PM on June 11, 2009


How practical is it to live in Boston without a car?

Extremely.

I've lived in Back Bay for the past year sans car. I could walk to work in the South End, if I so chose. The Green Line (T) is 3 blocks from my house, Downtown Crossing is on the other side of the Common - a 10 min. walk. The red line, which is also a 10 min. walk, takes you right into Cambridge if that's your thing.

There is a fair amount of walking involved in all of this, and the T can sometimes be a royal pain in the ass, but I'd rather wait for an E train any day of the week than try to find parking in downtown Boston.

Other than hauling shit around, for which I've rented a car, I've never needed a car in Boston.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:03 PM on June 11, 2009


"In East Boston, the North End or South Boston taking that spot is an invitation to get your tires slashed!"

So if you're a tire repairshop owner and business has been slow because of the storms just drive around removing the large litter that fellow citizens have carelessly left in the street and business should pickup immediately.

"I'm just going to say that hearing all of these stories about parking in larger cities really makes me appreciate every place I've ever lived. I don't think anywhere in the world is awesome enough to be worth spending 45 minutes of your daily life parking."

That's 273 hours annually. If you're the average American you're spending more time parking at the end of the day than you take as paid holiday.
posted by Mitheral at 8:07 PM on June 11, 2009


grapefruitmoon: How practical is it to live in Boston without a car?

Extremely.


How do you live anywhere without a car? I'm totally serious, I'd feel hopelessly trapped in. How do you get to events, etc. that are further than about 10 miles away? How do you get groceries home in any meaningful quantity? How do you buy anything you can't carry? Do you just never leave town except by air?
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:12 PM on June 11, 2009


How do you get to events, etc. that are further than about 10 miles away?

Bus. Commuter rail. Renting a car. You discount renting cars, as if to drive to a specific event, you must own the car. Also: carpooling. Most often if there's something I want to go badly enough, someone else wants to go too.

How do you get groceries home in any meaningful quantity?

Peapod.

How do you buy anything you can't carry?

Renting a car. Zipcar. Get it delivered. Etc.

Do you just never leave town except by air?

Or bus... or train... Or rental car...

Really, we rent a car approximately once every 2 mos. or so when something comes up that we need a car and it's way, way cheaper and easier than owning a car in the city. Zipcar even rents cars by the hour.

If you ever visit Boston, you will understand that to own a car in this city is far, far more hassle than *not* owning one.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:15 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Mitrovarr: See this askme. Not directly related, but plenty of people do it.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:19 PM on June 11, 2009


I should add that I live without a car, and have no issues with it. I live somewhere with a public transit system.

I bus or take the train to get out of town (sometimes fly).

I don't buy too many groceries at once, usually not more than two bags-but I live alone so it's not an issue. Two bags can get me a week's worth of groceries, and I'm more conscious of what (and how much) I'm buying.

I take the cat to the vet on the bus in his carrier. It occasionally gets me strange looks, but it's not that big of a deal.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:22 PM on June 11, 2009


grapefruitmoon: Bus. Commuter rail. Renting a car.

It just all sounds so impractical. Busses never seem to go where you want to go when you want to go there. Trains are just that principle taken to its utmost excent. Car renting costs an absolute fortune, and how do you get to the rental car center anyway? Plus all of those add about an hour onto any trip you take.

I can understand that owning a car there is horribly impractical, but in all honesty, that just sounds like an excellent reason to not live there. The idea that you couldn't even leave the city without making a huge affair of it (almost certainly requiring a vacation or a weekend) seems pretty confining.
posted by Mitrovarr at 8:24 PM on June 11, 2009


Mitrovarr: I'm in a *city.* I can *walk* to a car rental place from here. Adds 15 minutes to a trip, tops. There's a commuter rail that extends from Boston to towns an hour's drive away in all directions, and it's served me well on many occasions. I can get a bus from South Station to my parents' town in Vermont every two hours. I can leave the city and come back in a day, no problem. My parents often take the bus to South Station, spend the day in Boston, and bus back up to Vermont in a day rather than *drive* and *park* in the city.

There are a lot of reasons that I'm not happy about living in Boston and I *am* happy to be leaving, but car ownership has nothing to do with it. The amount of money spent on car rental pales in comparison to what insurance, parking, and gas would cost. And the extra half hour of hassle for the bus or train? Way better than spending hours stuck in traffic or looking for parking. Not to mention gas. There's not a convenient gas station near my house that wouldn't add an extra fifteen minutes on to any drive.

There are plenty of places where it is absolutely necessary to own a car, and I'm not against car ownership. I'm moving back to Providence soon, where I will own a car because while there is a public transportation system, it's less than reliable. Also: as a nanny, "do you have a car?" is the second question on every interview (right after "are you a serial killer?"). But I firmly believe that owning a car while living in *DOWNTOWN* Boston is foolish if not downright suicidal.

Seriously. Spend some time in Boston before you decide whether nor not this is a place where owning a car is freeing or, in my opinion, a terrible time-consuming money-draining nuisance. I'm talking specifically about *BOSTON* here, not "Hypothetical City X."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:46 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


(I should add that I've lived in Providence without a car for long stretches of time, and while that's way less practical, it *can* be done as well. The only place I've ever lived in my life where car ownership was REQUIRED for daily life was Vermont. The PVTA in the Pioneer Valley could keep you in groceries if you were willing to spend all day waiting for the bus. RIPTA in RI isn't awful, but isn't great. And I could walk anywhere I needed to go in Reykjavík. So, I'm used to being creative about getting around and in no way feel "boxed in" without a car.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:49 PM on June 11, 2009


If you *must* live in downtown Boston and you *must* have a car, then 300k seems reasonable. At least, I'm not surprised. But if you're living downtown, for all practical purposes, you don't need a car. And prices are a lot better a few miles from Back Bay and Beacon Hill. We're in the city limits and have an off-street parking space included in our (inexpensive, for Boston) rent.
posted by HumuloneRanger at 9:10 PM on June 11, 2009


Mitrovarr - where do you live?

When I was in small town Iowa doing my undergrad; yeah, you pretty much needed a car (even though two "major" cities where within 20 minutes drive, and 5+ Major cities were 5 hours away).

I've also spent a little time in a lot of suburbs in the US and yes, the closest place to buy produce/groceries needs for you one to have a car.

In Vancouver, BC - outside of the 'suburbs,' the city is divided into lots of "little cities" where there are multiple produce stores and a few supermarkets all within walking distance (for everyday needs; not to mention lots of other low-density commercial spaces). Public transit is ok, and has generally been improving. Instead of Calgary, AB's great inter-regional highway system, there're the express bus lines in Vancouver that will get you from the West end of town to the East, and from downtown to the airport and everything in between. Regional busses are also reasonably extensive and reasonably frequent. Then there's the light rail system that connects the suburbs. It's not perfect, but it's not horrible. I used to live in at the most Northern end of the greater Vancouver regional area (Lynn Valley, right up by the foot of Grouse Mountain), and it took me about an hour to get downtown (plus waiting 0-30 minutes for the 210 bus). Sure, getting from UBC to Deep Cove or Surrey takes a couple, three hours but living in the non-exurbed city with a reasonable transit system means that a car really isn't necessary.

Vancouver is a horribly planned (as in, unplanned) but something a little denser makes a lot more sense than something like, say, the Phoenix sprawl (compounded with the water problem).

As for moving big stuff... get stronger; transit doesn't mind as long as you can fit it into the bus without taking forever to get it on/off. (ie., "urban recylers" with four garbage bags of stenchy empties, me with a 120# air conditioner, Japanese snowboard tourists with a snowboard and a pack twice as big as they are...).
posted by porpoise at 9:15 PM on June 11, 2009


Seriously, it is entirely possible to not own a car and live in a large urban city (New York, Chicago, Boston). And in those, not owning a car is far more practical than owning. I did have a car when I lived in Chicago, but that was because I already had one and I could park my car at work indefinitely. Within 5 minutes walk of where I lived there were two big grocery stores, several smaller ethnic food stores, uncountable restaurants, etc. And an L station, which meant I had easy access to the whole city. The public transportation system wasn't perfect (damned 22 Clark bus!) but it sure beat driving everywhere.

Now I live in Fort Worth and commute to Dallas for work. Thank god for the commuter rail or I'd go nuts having to drive an hour each way every day. The transit system is developing more locally as well, but it'll never match a truly urban environment.
posted by kmz at 10:15 PM on June 11, 2009


Who would have thought a parking space would be the thing which finally made me sympathize with Jeremiah Wright's "God damn America" speech.
posted by hamida2242 at 1:03 AM on June 12, 2009


This story is not about parking, commuting or even Boston. This is an old-fashioned pi**ing contest between two dim-witted rich people that could have happened anywhere in America. Local news reports are portraying the $300K parking space as the result of a 'bidding war'. Knowing the rancor that is common in condo associations, I read between the lines to mean that one condo owner just wanted to screw another and didn't care how much it cost.
posted by birdwatcher at 4:58 AM on June 12, 2009


literally a 10 min drive from that parking space (Arlington, assuming no gridlock traffic)

Hey, how come sammyo gets a flying car! I want a flying car too!
Ten minutes, my ass. The Omega Man couldn't make that drive in 10 minutes.

I live in Belmont, almost as far out as Sammyo, and while my apartment has a parking space, it's empty for most of the year (long story). I live on a bus route that takes me past a grocery store and into Harvard Square where I work. I do virtually all the shopping I need to do on the bus, but once a month I rent a Zipcar (located at that same grocery store) to go to Costco and Target.

There's no question that I don't have the same instant gratification of being able to hop in a car at a moment's notice, but the inconveniences are really very minor. As someone who doesn't really enjoy driving that much in general, and in Boston even less so, living somewhere where a car isn't a necessity is a huge plus for me.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:07 AM on June 12, 2009


How do you get to events, etc. that are further than about 10 miles away? How do you get groceries home in any meaningful quantity? How do you buy anything you can't carry?

That's why God invented taxicabs.
posted by ericb at 6:48 AM on June 12, 2009


So, how do the hoity-toity owners keep the rabble from parking in these "owned" parking spaces?
posted by cass at 7:02 AM on June 12, 2009


Mitrovarr, where do you live? I get the sense that you do not live in a large city, because your concerns about how do you do this or that wouldn't even come up if you lived in Boston, or New York, or Chicago (where I live). I had a car here for a long time, because I had the car when I moved here, and you get used to having a car and it never occurs to you that you can live perfectly well without it. Once I sold it, I saved about $2,500 a year, not counting any repairs I might need. I can get everywhere via public transport, groceries are delivered right to my door, and if I *must* have a car for something (trip to IKEA, say, or to a garden nursery), I get one for a day.

I understand the need for cars if you live somewhere with no public transportation (or no decent public transportation), like a rural area, but there is simply no need for a car in a big city.
posted by tzikeh at 7:02 AM on June 12, 2009


So, how do the hoity-toity owners keep the rabble from parking in these "owned" parking spaces?

Arrange with a tow company to do occasional sweeps in the alley off of which these cars are parked.
posted by ericb at 7:18 AM on June 12, 2009


There's also the new $300,000 public toilet set to open near Christopher Columbus Park on the waterfront near the North End.
posted by ericb at 7:43 AM on June 12, 2009


I lived in the car dependent burbs all my life until the past two years, when I sold my beloved VW and moved to Boston (well, Cambridge). Getting rid of my car was one of the best decisions I made, ever!

Last summer, most weekends were spent exploring coastal towns north and south of the city. As others have mentioned, the commuter rail extends quite far outside of the city. I'm a 5 minute walk from the T (subway). I walk about 3 minutes to a bus stop which takes me directly to the side of the Trader Joe's, or the mall, or Watertown's yummy Armenian markets. I might have to carry stuff on the bus and from the stop to my apartment, but it forces me to think about what I really need, eat, and use. So I save money, instead of buying stuff that might be thrown out or wasted. For bigger trips and very heavy stuff, there's always taking a cab back (it's a city, it's usually very easy to flag one down), Peapod grocery delivery, or Zipcar. Within a 10 minute radius walk, there are about 5 zipcar stations. I just pop in my visitor street parking permit, which costs me $8/year. For basics, there's a nice market 1.5 blocks away, and a CVS about 1.5 more blocks. I buy what I need in terms of clothing/supplies/furniture/books/etc. A lot of stuff I can carry, if not, I order online or rent a car as needed. My granny cart is badass. I don't buy stuff just because I can, but because I need it.

I walk a lot. I don't work out much, but I walk and carry a lot. I lost about 15 pounds in the first month (only to gain it back because my body got used to it, and then winter happened), but I feel much, (much!) more physically fit and able. Hell, back in the DC burbs, I'd take my car 2 blocks (a 6 minute walk) to the grocery store for a couple of items. What a total waste.

There's also something really fucking satisfying about knowing everything that's in my home, I mostly sought out and carried it back by myself. It's like an urban 21st century hunter and gatherer feeling.

I also like walking. My concept of "walking distance" has changed dramatically. I like it. Sometimes having a car would be nice. But mostly, I consider it a nuisance. I can get to the beach for $1.75. Revere beach is kind of eh, but it's sand and the Atlantic Ocean. For a few bucks more, I can explore the beautiful coastal areas. Amtrak is also pretty active in the NE for longer trips that are too short to fly to. I can also get to the airport for $1.75.

Living without a car in the city is a very good, very practical, and totally doable idea indeed. I honestly don't know why I didn't sell it sooner.
posted by raztaj at 8:37 AM on June 12, 2009


Revere beach is kind of eh, but it's sand and the Atlantic Ocean.

You can also take the Rockport Commuter Rail [PDF] from North Station, get off at Manchester-by-the-Sea and walk a few blocks to Singing Beach. On the weekends you can also take a bike on the train.
posted by ericb at 9:09 AM on June 12, 2009


Video of the parking spot.
posted by ericb at 10:12 AM on June 12, 2009


In East Boston, the North End or South Boston taking that spot is an invitation to get your tires slashed!

The traditional Southie revenge is a bucket of old paint on your hood. Slashing tires is no way to get someone out of your spot. Think it through, Eastie.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:38 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


In Dorchester, I heard that messing with those spots was a good way to lose windows. But I never saw it happen. But my parents moved when I was 7, so I could have easily missed it.
posted by Hactar at 12:01 PM on June 12, 2009


The winning bidder did not want to be identified, she said.

Well, we know where he lives parks, so we can key find him pretty easily, right?
posted by rokusan at 8:14 PM on June 12, 2009


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