When city approval of a proposed $350 million skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles was on the line, project manager Hamid Behdad knew he had to give in to the last-minute demand of a planning commissioner to quadruple the number of electric vehicle charging stations in the condominium tower.
"When you are in the heat of the hearing in the last leg of the proposal, you aren't going to say no," Behdad said, even though he thought the requirement was overkill.
Today, with the Perla on Broadway complete and angling for buyers, Behdad said he is "extremely glad that commissioner forced us" to install chargers on 20% of the building's parking stalls.
"If we didn't have these 90 chargers, we would be in real trouble selling units," he said.
Landlords of apartments, hotels, office buildings and other commercial properties are rushing to avoid similar trouble. And owners of convenience stores, fast food chains, movie theaters and big box retailers are hoping to cash in on EV chargers to lure customers with time to kill as they fill up.
Charging centers are just the first step of commercial landlords scrambling to adjust to a historic burst of change in the world of transportation, with once fantastical notions like autonomous cars and air taxis nearing fruition.
Some companies are building charging centers that are a giant step beyond electrified gas stations. Elon Musk's Tesla, for instance, is building a whimsical drive-in movie and diner complex in Hollywood where Tesla owners can entertain themselves while loading their batteries.
Fancy L.A. shopping centers such as the Grove and Westfield Century City have chargers, as do the more workaday Walgreens, Walmarts, Subways and 7-Elevens.
The arrival of Tesla's Model 3 and other more affordable electric vehicles are helping EVs seize market share from gas-powered vehicles, putting more pressure on the historically slow-changing real estate business to get with the times.
The immediate issue is installing enough chargers to meet growing demand and seize business opportunities. But other advances in transportation technology stand to rewrite centuries-old rules about how buildings are designed and built.
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