Bike Share Attractive for Developers, Tenants

By Madeline Faber, Memphis Daily News

On both sides of the spectrum, real estate developers and tenants are attracted to bike share because proximity to the rental bikes makes areas attractive.

Developer Billy Orgel said he’s interested in securing a bike station to serve the four residential buildings, office users and 358-space parking garage at his planned Brewery District Downtown.

He sees having a bike-share station at his 280-unit multifamily complex as an advertised amenity, like having a fitness center.

“If you’re in New York or Chicago, the closer you live to a train line or subway line, you pay more rent because it’s a convenience,” Orgel said. “And bike share is an amenity. You don’t want the building two doors down to have it if you don’t have it.”

He said the Brewery District will be connected by a pedestrian-friendly network with benches and wide sidewalks. When bike-share stations hit the ground locally early next year, it will be a natural fit for the Brewery District and will help connect the South Downtown project to the greater urban core.

Those increased connections are what makes bike share attractive to commercial developers, said Doug Carpenter, principal of communications firm DCA.

Carpenter said that in some bike-share markets, developers will outright purchase bike share stations for commercial projects as opposed to waiting for a network expansion. Carpenter, whose firm is spearheading bike share’s growth in Memphis, said he is entertaining that possibility with local developers. In Memphis, it will cost about $65,000 to purchase a station and 10 bikes.

When Memphis’ first phase of bike share is up and running, there will be 600 rental bikes across 60 stations in Memphis. Most of the stations are near attractions, like parking garages, hotels, museums and cultural amenities. Naturally, everything around a bike-share station becomes an attraction as well.

“They are launching points and landing points,” Carpenter said. “It becomes pretty desirable because it’s an additive asset to be around bike shares. There’s a certain additional market it can bring you, especially when it comes to tourism in Memphis. I think the tourist’s range to spend money grows fairly significantly with bike share.”

Bike share also extends the range of walkability so that more people have access to retail and restaurants. By traveling on a bike, people are more likely to stop in stores and try out something new as opposed to in cars, where people travel isolated from the streetscape and must look for parking.

Adding bike share to undeveloped areas could make them more attractive to outside investment, Orgel said. With more people biking and walking, an area feels more active and safe. And by extending the range of travel, bike share can help neighborhoods redevelop without waiting for new bus routes.

“Where there’s infrastructure, bikes will go, but also where bikes go, infrastructure gets developed,” Carpenter said. “If they are traveling down roads it can mean bike lanes are added or retail moves into that area or grows because the traffic on that artery has grown.”

In a study cited by the Urban Land Institute, there is also a positive correlation between ease of biking and property values. The value of properties within a block of Indianapolis’ eight-mile biking and walking trail, for example, increased 148 percent between 2014 and when the trail opened in 2008.

Carpenter said bike share also helps bring in new supporters of active transportation. In the next evolution of local bike culture, commercial projects could sprout in well-biked areas.

Real estate development that’s oriented to bike infrastructure is already taking place in Memphis. The 18 buildings of the Parkside mixed-use development will sit on the edge of the Shelby Farms Greenline when construction is completed. And the Artesian Condos boast several recreation- friendly amenities in anticipation of the Main to Main Intermodal Connector Project, which turns the Harahan Bridge into a pedestrian crossing over the Mississippi River. The condo building has an interior, air-conditioned bike storage room and easy-access entry and exit gates to the trails.