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In the District of Columbia circa 2003, $25,000 could buy a fully loaded Volvo S40 sedan, complete with 10-spoke alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, front fog lights, and a leather-rimmed steering wheel. Or it could buy a convenient place to park it. On May 2, a former resident at 2710 Macomb St. NW put his private parking space on the market for $25,000 plus a $5.16 monthly condo fee.
The space sits on the edge of a sloping lot, separated by a retractable gate from a sylvan stretch of Macomb Street in Cleveland Park, just east of Connecticut Avenue. It has its own real-estate broker: Kathryn Purchase of Prudential Carruthers Realtors. Purchase points out that the spot not only is well-situated with respect to the Cleveland Park Metro stop, it also occupies a desirable location vis-à-vis the other spots in the lot. “It’s the first one in there,” says Purchase. “There’s no one on one side. If it’s snowing, you can just back right out.”
According to the rules of the condominium association, you don’t have to live at 2710 Macomb St. to take the parking spaceanyone with a $25,000 personal-parking budget can buy in. Purchase says that this is the first time she has represented a parking space on its own and describes the asking price as “realistic.” She has seen parking spaces downtown advertised for more than $30,000.
Parking spaces that cost more than entry-level luxury cars are a new phenomenon in D.C. “It has been fairly recently that prices jumped so high,” says Purchase. “Back in the fall, when I first saw prices in the 20s, I was amazed.”
Purchase says that most high-end parking spaces are attached to swank apartments. “To tell you the truth, most people sell their parking spaces with their units,” says Purchase. “It makes the unit more valuable.”
But there are exceptions. Up at 4707 Connecticut Ave., a vast prewar building where a one-bedroom apartment is currently listed at $299,000, parking spaces are bought and sold independently. When the building converted to condominiums, in 1982, indoor spots went for $7,000, outdoor spots for $4,000. Earlier this year, a garage spot sold for $20,000.
It was only a few years ago that the parking-space market started going gangbusters at 4707 Connecticut Ave. Back in the summer of 2000, a real-estate agent held a silent auction for an indoor space. The agent started the price at $13,000, asking interested residents to turn in sealed bids above that amount.
Joseph Remy, an economic analyst with the federal government, won the bidding for $18,600. “I really wanted it,” says Remy. “When I bought the apartment [in May 1999], I thought I could live without a parking space. But it turned out to be a real pain in the ass.”
Remy drives a 2002 Volkswagen Jetta GLX, which has a Blue Book value of around $20,000only slightly more than the price Remy paid for the spot. Still, Remy sees the purchase as a wise investment. “If I wanted to sell my apartment, the parking space will make it easier for me to dump the unit quickly,” says Remy. “Or I can keep the space and use it as a rental.”
How much would someone have to offer Remy for him to consider selling it? “If I listed it without my apartment,” says Remy, “I’d ask for $25,000.” CP