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PARKD - model of a prefab car park.

‘Pop-up’ car parks and the future of property on show in Perth

“Ten years ago, anyone who talked about these things would have been earmarked for the asylum…but next year in Melbourne you’ll be able to go up the top of buildings, get in a little helicopter-type thing and fly straight to the airport.”

So said PARKD Ltd chief operations officer Peter McUtchen on Friday in a presentation that summed up some of the innovative flavour of the Australian Property Institute’s annual WA State Conference.

Speaking on an “Innovations in property” panel, Mr McUtchen unveiled a vision for the future where multi-storey car parks could be assembled in days and remain in place for as little as six months and as long as 100 years. Deconstruction would not involve demolition.

The key, he said, lay in pre-fabrication of Lego-like materials and a willingness to think outside the established box.

“There’s a disconnect right now between operators and asset owners [when it comes to car parks],” Mr McUtchen told the conference.

“Operators don’t care about changing things because they don’t own the assets themselves.

“There’s a huge opening to develop car parks in planning for the future…the car parks of Perth now are not where they will need to be in 10 years’ time.”

Mr McUtchen outlined a potential future where autonomous vehicles would drop users at their doorsteps and make their own way back to a nearby depot.

Car parks, he explained, could become generators of multiple revenue streams, acting not only in their tradition short-term capacity and as depots but also as charging and cleaning stations for electrical vehicles.

If the concept still sounds slightly far-fetched, consider this “out-there” parking solution conjured up in Chicago in the 1930s.

Space Age

Just as the approach of PARKD invited the audience to reimagine parking, presentations from SpacetoCo and uDrew challenged conference attendees to re-think current status-quo around leasing community space and the construction of relatively simple residential building add-ons like walls and fences.

The recipient of a $210,000 investment last year as part of Channel Ten’s Shark Tank, SpacetoCo bills itself as an “Airbnb for community facilities”.

The premise is enticing in its simplicity: hosts register their venues with SpacetoCo, which also provides a search platform for people looking for space. Venues can be filtered by potential users for activity and location and assessed in line with previous reviews.

SpacetoCo pockets 15 per cent of booking revenue and has proved particularly attractive for local councils, co-founder and CEO Daniel McCullen told the conference.

“They [councils] are not very good at making spaces available,” Mr McCullen said.

“In fact, they can be so bad that people really don’t even use them.”

Do it yourself…all of it

Interaction with local government is also a key attraction of uDrew, which offers the ability to “allow anybody to create their own fully customisable, interactive, compliant, ‘smart’ building and engineering plans in real-time” and then get approval “in minutes.”

The start-up is an off-shoot of founder and CEO Tom Young’s 10-month odyssey of frustration going through the process of having a basic fence approved for construction.

He told the conference a pilot program with the City of Wanneroo had proved hugely successful for those seeking approvals and also the council itself.

uDrew now has ambitions to not only partner with other councils around WA and Australia but expand globally.

The conference also heard from Landcorp senior development manager Warren Phillips, who delivered a progress report on the innovative East Village project at Knutsford.

The sustainable development will deliver the country’s first blockchain-ready homes, with fast electric vehicle charging facilities, communal battery storage and extensive installation of solar panels notable aspects of village design. Curtin University researchers will monitor the results of the energy ecosystem as part of a “legacy living laboratory.”

Attendees at the conference also got a look at Far East Consortium’s world-first lift and tilt operable windows, which enable entire apartments at The Towers at Elizabeth Quay to become indoor-outdoor spaces.

Meanwhile, the rental scene could be in for a shake-up courtesy of Cordially, an app that would largely eradicate the need for time-consuming and “space-invading” rental inspections by empowering renters to send their own property condition photos to landlords/property managers.

CEO Ryan Carson said some property managers were currently looking after 100-150 properties, a situation he described as “unsustainable.”

“With Cordially, property managers can focus more on people matters and being solutions-based in their roles in their agencies,” Mr Carson said.

Fran Lawrence leads Cannings Purple’s Corporate Affairs team and has more than 20 years’ experience in media and communications. She is an expert in communication in the property sector. Contact Fran.

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