CHICAGO (CBS) – Think of it as AIR BnB for your unused parking space, and a way to earn some extra cash.
The ParqEx App, created here in Chicago has been recognized as one of the city’s top tech start-ups. CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole went looking for parking with the app’s developer.
In an area like Chicago’s West Loop it is very difficult to find street parking.
“These neighborhoods don’t have parking lots and garages like the downtown does,” said ParqEx app developer, Vivek Mehra.
But as Vivek Mehra drives by the growing number of residential buildings in the former warehouse district he knows something is certain.
“There are parking spaces locked up behind a gate and a garage door,” Mehra said.
In fact, one third of those indoor spaces may sit empty, it’s what led Mehra to develop ParqEx, an app and website that allows the owners of unused parking spaces rent them out, either hourly, daily or monthly.
“As much as I love the city, parking has been a huge problem for me,” Mehra said.
Users enter their destination, and the time and date parking is needed. A selection of spaces with photos appears. Customers then contact the owners who pay ParqEx a fee.
The similarities to Air BnB are undeniable.
“It’s wasted space so why not do something with it?” said Pamela Devlin, ParqEx user.
Pam Devlin doesn’t even own a car. Though at first she was skeptical, she’s now pocketing $200 from a monthly West Loop lease.
“I am making money from an empty space that was never used,” Devlin said.
As a safety net, Mehra said customers must register with personal information to use the service.
ParqEx also lists 8,000 spaces in commercial garages, but 600 of its spaces are residential in a city where finding parking can at times seem to be an Olympic sport.