Want to Save Land, Construction Costs in Building a Garage? Try Automated Parking

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Want to Save Land, Construction Costs in Building a Garage? Try Automated Parking

Editor’s note: The benefits and issues of automated parking will be addressed at a PIE 2015 seminar. Unfamiliar with the technology or curious if it might be right for you? Don’t miss this “meeting of the masters.” Here’s a preview. JVH
No longer does the “American Dream” involve just a home in the ‘burbs with a white picket fence. Today, more individuals, from young professionals to empty nesters, are looking to live in a city or urban center. Recent studies validate this trend, showing that urban populations are at their highest levels in more than 100 years.
New mixed-used developments now allow for luxury living with all the amenities one could want – with most close to entertainment, restaurants, culture and work.
To get a feel for just how popular mixed-used developments have become in the U.S., particularly in urban areas, do a quick Google search. Countless large-scale developments incorporating everything from office and hotel to residential, retail and restaurants, are popping up from Miami to Bellevue, WA, and all points in between.
Some of the largest projects, which take years to plan, develop and build, require significant parcels of land. The 23 acres currently in development for Boston’s Seaport Square project will provide 6.3 million-square-feet of space once completed. Miami’s $1 billion Brickell City Centre project calls for the development of 5.4 million-square-feet. In southeast Austin, TX, a 390-acre mixed-used project has just been announced. And the list goes on and on.
How do they do that? One possible solution, automated garages, is the focus of a PIE 2015 seminar. (The Parking Industry Exhibition, sponsored by Parking Today, will be March 29-April 1 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, IL.)
Most think that standard ramp garages, either below- or above-ground, are the only means to accommodate the sheer number of vehicles at a multimillion-square-foot project. The reality is that automated garages can provide a better alternative, for multiple reasons.
For starters, developers have the potential to save millions of dollars if they choose an automated garage versus a standard ramp garage. The idea of saving 20% to 30% in the cost of building an underground garage using automated parking versus a standard ramp garage is, at a minimum, eyebrow-raising.
As an example, a project being studied outside Washington, DC, is examining whether or not automated parking would be more cost effective than a standard ramp garage. In this particular case, it has been determined that an underground garage, designed to service a high-rise apartment building, would cost $75,000 per space, all in. As luck would have it, it also was determined that the building footprint would need to be reduced due to utility issues unforeseen in the original development plan.
The study examined whether or not the parking could be accommodated using an automated solution. It was determined that the cost “all in” for the automated system, plus the underground “bathtub” structure, would be $58,000 per space, resulting in a $17,000 per space savings. This equates to an overall savings of 23% from the original $75,000 per space cost, and fit within the reduced available footprint. (The ramp garage would not fit in the smaller footprint.)
Another study that the PIE seminar will look at examined a circumstance for an auto dealership in a suburban area of northern Virginia. The dealership was severely lacking space to park new and used cars, as well as employee vehicles. It also was out of options as it related to the usual practice of parking these vehicles off-site on vacant lots or within unused shopping center parking areas for shopping centers.
However, the study found that providing the amount of parking needed for a 60 foot by 100 foot automated garage only required the $300,000 worth of land, resulting in an overall savings of $1 million in land costs alone.
Perhaps the most important benefit of an automated garage is the safety and security it provides. Consider this: From November 2014 to the first week of January 2015, 40 cars were vandalized in a Norfolk, VA, parking garage. Surveillance cameras were not enough to deter, or catch, those vandals. Such scenarios simply cannot occur in automated garages.
As mixed-use developments continue to grow across the county, especially in urban areas, parking will continue to be a significant aspect of any such project. This PIE 2015 seminar will show that as an alternative that saves money and land, and is much safer and secure, automated parking deserves to be examined in both above- and below-ground garages.
Professional Transportation Planner Wes Guckert, President of the Traffic Group, can be reached at wguckert@trafficgroup.com.
 
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Wes Guckert
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