Don’t all parents wish their children will one day fly the coop and setup a home of their own? The tearful good-byes evolving into hopes for invitations to come visit, hang out and reminisce about the old days as offspring transition to independence.
Just as those with means wouldn’t want their child to suffer the indignity of living in rented accommodation, that cherry ’73 Cuda Hemi won’t have to either. Gone are the days when classic cars, boats, and RVs suffered the embarrassment of being dumped off at (often orange) rented storage facilities.
Enter the niche world of the garage condo.
Yes, garage condo – 20 percent down and a mortgage kinda condo. I read about a town changing their zoning to allow for it and thought it must be a one-off. That hope evaporated as the story continued that the city council had researched the trend (it’s a trend?) before approving. I was dumbfounded.
Doing my own research, I found out that just like a human condo, garage condos are often gated communities with clubhouses complete with full bathroom facilities, coffee bars, a lounge and regular garbage pick-up. They even have a frigging HOA (should that be a GOA?).
These “gondos” seem to start around 600 square feet and typically have 20-foot ceilings, capable of being two stories in height, but usually just have a mezzanine for tool storage, memorabilia or a living/office area. In car terms, they can fit a car lift for repairs or to stack a second vehicle as well as house a full-size RV.
They’re HVAC-ed with separately metered electricity, fully insulated with drywall walls, hookups for phone, cable TV and internet, running water, and a sealed concrete floor for easy clean-up in case the car drops a deuce.
Of course like any owned property, the interior can be kitted out as extravagantly as the owner wants – even in some cases adding a full bathroom (in case the car needs a roommate).
Beyond a paean to boys’ toys, some gondos allow owners to operate a business out of the unit. No, they’re not going to allow you to open a McDonald’s, but more solitary occupations that don’t involve a steady stream of customers.
Another use typically discussed is to house various collections. Somehow I still think of this as a boys’ toys type of collectable … 10,000 Star Wars action figures versus Beanie Babies or American Girl dolls. Maybe that’s sexist?
One such company offering gondos in the Metroplex is Garages of Texas. They have 10 locations in Texas with six in the Dallas area. The guys running the operation are combination commercial real estate professionals and car buffs. The founders have been in the storage market for years and saw a niche when they visited their first gondo.
For those like me who may have tittered at the concept, know that these spaces will cost six-figures. Further skeptics should also know that the Lakeview location on Storey Lane and the Plano site on West Plano Parkway are already sold out. For those inside the loop, the Carrolton location is the closest with space available at Marsh Lane just north of Keller Springs.
The more I think of the gondo, the more it resembles the clubhouses of our youth. Most of us dreamed about forts and treehouses where we could get away from adults (I wanted my parents to buy an old caboose for the backyard). As an adult, gondos offer an escape from being an adult.
Remember: High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make? Shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.