Parking “Robots” Provide Relief for Developers in Dense Urban Areas (PT 3)

Growth in Popularity

Despite a few misses, automated parking garages are growing in popularity. Star Tower in Long Island City, NY (32 spaces), H3 Hotel in Haldsburg, CA (43 spaces), The Austin in San Francisco (78 spaces), the StoneFire in Berkeley, CA (61 spaces) and Avalon Bay’s Dogpatch project in San Francisco (50 spaces) are just a few of the projects coming online in 2017 that will include robotic parking.

Even municipalities, the local governments responsible for outdated parking requirements, are getting in the business of providing robotic parking. A two-story public parking garage in Oakland, CA was retrofitted in 2015 using one of CityLift’s “Puzzle” systems. The garage, where monthly parking permits sell for $200 per space, increased parking by 50% and generates additional revenue for the municipality in the process. And West Hollywood, CA says it saved over $1 million last year by building a fully robotic parking garage, the municipality’s first.

Video of City of West Hollywood Automated Parking Garage can be found here: https://vimeo.com/232542614

Los Angeles just cut the ribbon on its first automated parking garage on March 10. Located on the Helms Bakery campus in Culver City, it is the the city’s largest fully-automated system. It was installed by California-based AutoParkit and allowed the developer to increase parking from 86 spaces to 247 spaces using the same land area and for the same cost as a traditional parking structure. Wally Marks, whose family’s real estate company bought and renovated the 11-acre Helms Bakery property in the 1970s, says he decided to invest in the automated garage for the benefit of the employees who work at the 17 companies scattered throughout the campus. Marks credits AutoParkit for “literally re-writing the building code” with the city’s building and safety manager, making changes that were necessary before the automated parking garage could receive the permits it needed to move forward.

Automated parking garages are becoming so prevalent in New York City that the city just included language about automated parking in its latest Zoning Ordinance released in 2016. The Zoning Ordinance, the apparent first of its kind in the U.S., differentiates between attended parking facilities with parking lift systems (semi-automatic) and fully-automatic parking facilities, with specific regulations for each. Currently, most municipalities permit automated parking garages on a case-by-case basis. As these systems become more popular, we suspect other municipalities to follow NYC’s lead by integrating language directly into the zoning code to ensure consistency across projects.

In an era where developers and municipalities alike are being pushed to conserve resources and maximize return on investment, progressive solutions are more important than ever. Parking robots offer a viable alternative to the conventional parking garages of yesteryear. Technology will only continue to advance in the coming years, making automated parking systems more efficient and reliable than ever before.