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Get rich with the new real estate

25.02.2013

I WAS recently in Melrose, one of Johannesburg’s most affluent suburbs. I might have been taken in by the beautiful cars parked on every corner and the people who look important doing their businessey things.

Two things quickly brought me back to earth: the prices of the food at some of the restaurants (I’ll have a glass of water - from the tap - and the soup of the day please) and the difficulty in finding a parking space.

The process of finding a parking space is almost an art form here in South Africa. This is exemplified by the parking attendants. How would I possibly ascertain that the gap marked by two white lines and is more than the width of my car, could possibly be a parking space without that kind soul pointing it out to me?

In almost every situation where something enjoyable or popular is involved (concerts, nightclubs, malls or sporting events) parking becomes a real problem. It isn’t anybody’s fault; everyone wants to attend and is therefore in the same place at the same time and that is just a fact of life.

Sometimes you are lucky enough to find a parking space. If it remains open for more than five seconds, there must be something wrong, so you lurk around and slowly creep up to it. As you approach it, “the horror, the horror” it says “reserved for …” and you know the jig is up. This doesn’t deter most, as they rationalise taking the parking by saying that they will “only be five minutes”. Or if they are caught they will say that they are a customer of this fine establishment or that they didn’t see the sign.

I don’t know if it was the businessmen and women of Melrose or the fact that I am so sick of looking for parking, but I began pondering the parking dilemma from a capitalistic point of view. I believe that parking is the business of the future.

Look at OR Tambo International Airport. The parking costs are so exorbitant that they must make huge sums of money.

I know that you get the red and green lights to show open- and closed parking bays, although the green ones rather annoyingly aren’t as “available” as their hue sometimes suggests. It’s all very fancy, but around R20 per hour for a space to park your car is just ridiculous. The airport isn’t the only one though, almost every mall does this now and the owners are laughing their way to a Ferrari 458 and a Camps Bay mansion.

I propose that if you are a budding entrepreneur (which I most certainly am not), why invest in buil-ding apartments or shopping malls when you can turn your piece of land into a parking lot. People like me will rejoice at the sight of a place to put our now-cumbersome mode of transportation while we gorge or shop.

Parking isn’t something that will just go away either. I haven’t seen someone taking their Fiesta into Woolies with them to grab a few things. So provided you have placed your parking lot in the right place, you will always have clientele.

Until the next Warren Buffett of parking arrives with a few solutions, I cannot see a way out of the problem for the everyday person. Maybe if your parking-real-estate endeavour pans out, you can buy a helicopter and avoid traffic and parking simultaneously. Just make sure that the other parking millionaires don’t take your helipad space or the problem may start all over again.

Article written by Sean Nurse
25.02.2013
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