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RALEIGH, NC-The parking lot shortage here has become a critical issue for commuters and developers alike. It’s difficult finding a parking space and it’s even more difficult finding surface space that can be converted into parking lots.

The surface lots that can be found are quickly becoming more expensive, due to the city’s booming housing market. Since 1996, more than 400 homes, condominiums and townhouses have been built Downtown or just outside its borders.

For example, condominium developer Gregg Sandreuter bought a 1.1-acre parking lot about a month ago, but he had to search two years to find it. He paid $33.39 per sf, a record for Downtown property.

One lot that developers have had an eye on is a 1.74-acre parcel owned by real estate broker Betsy Anne Bradshaw. The asking price is $4 million, or $53 per sf, more than a vacant lot on the mall, which is the most expensive property in Wake County, according to commercial appraiser Tom Hester.

Developers want parking lots because they are less expensive than land with buildings that have to be demolished at added expense. There are more than 500 parking lots Downtown, but most are small lots used by businesses. Condo developers say they need at least half an acre.

City planners estimate there are only a dozen lots of at least half an acre under single ownership Downtown, and few of them are for sale.

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