Snowing in Philly, Automated Garage in NYC


Snowing in Philly, Automated Garage in NYC

Well, I’m on the road again – but now actually sitting in Philadelphia International Airport waiting for a flight that hopefully won’t be delayed by the snowstorm raging around outside. 

Marcy and I spent the day yesterday in New York and New Jersey, visiting old friends and making (hopefully) new ones.

I was very impressed with the automated garage built by AutoMotion Parking Systems at its project on Baster Street in Manhattan’s Chinatown/Little Italy. The garage, which will be run by MJS Garage Management, has 64 spaces under the three story building.  There are 24 condo’s in the upper floors with retail on the ground. Ari Milstein, AutoMotion’s Planning director gave us the tour.


The neat part of this installation is that there is an area within the garage itself where one can stand and watch the system run.  We could see our cars being whisked into the facility, turned around so they would be ready to drive out on exit, and then placed with their pallet in a spot to await retrieval.

This installation backs up my theory that Automated garages make use of viable technology, but that they really work best in crowded environments like Lower Manhattan. Its perfect in a place where you have only limited space and a conventional below ground garage would have only had room for about 20 cars.  Ari and his group were able to squeeze in 64 in the same space.

When the garage opens for customers next month it will be the first monthly AND daily automated garage in the US.  Operator Gary Schneeweiss of MJS told me that they would have a person on site to assist new parkers with the technology. "We want the experience to be first class."

Many years ago Arturo Rossi of Trevi Park told me that we should considered automated garages as actually automated VALET garages.  They provide the service of a valet system, and add that no one drives your car, and you can’t beat the security.  We should temper our desire to get our car returned in 45 seconds, because when we leave our car with a valet, the chances are that it can take up to half an hours (certainly true in Manhattan) to get our car back.  I am interested to see how this system works when 10 people arrive at the same time to either pick up or drop off their cars.

IN any event, the project is impressive, and seems to work well.  All the best to Ari, Gary and their group.

We also visited a couple of installations by Park Plus, with Eric Webb and Campbell Colledge squiring us around their location at Bellview Hospital where the Hospitals desire to build on a parking lot required more parking fast. The company supplied 274 spaces using its electric lift system.


They are "like" the scissor lifts you see in many surface lots, but they are not hydraulic and are 4 cars high. Eric told us they had the system up and running less than five months after the hospital said to begin.

Lunch with the marking folks at Skidata and their fearless leader, Tom Rollo was and intriguing review of technology and war stories. This is the company’s 30 year and they are planning a year long celebration to let the world know. 

Our last stop before Philly was with the folks at Pay Lock. Patrick Moynihan, Bart Blair, Cory Marchasin and Matt Sliverman held forth on their philosophy of how cities should attack their parking issues. This company goes after not only the scofflaws, but the procedures that put parking enforcement in a negative light in most cities.

The conversation was so interesting it may just be worth an article in an upcoming PT. Watch for it.

Dinner with my buddy Barbara Chance and her main squeeze Walter D’allesio, is always a great way to end a day. Now that I think about it, except for Walter complaining that all parking people are nuts (can’t argue a lot with that), we spoke very little about parking.  I know that some of you think there can’t be any topics more interesting than parking, wait until you hear Barbara and Walter hold forth on the truly wonderful characters that inhabit Ben Franklin’s home town. Walter’s an interesting guy. Barbara describes him as being in Real Estate. That’s rather like describing Steve Jobs as being a software engineer. IN addition to his day job and a senior member of an investment bank, Walter volunteers on dozens of public and private committees in the Philly area.  He is a leader in the Local Red Cross fund raising efforts. Self deprecating, Walter describes himself when he is with Barbara as her "eye candy."

They are calling my plane — more tomorrow


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Interesting that you post this blog about autmated parking the same day that the British Parking Association publication (PN) quoted you about “Automated parking”. The basic point you make in the PN article is that the technology has not caught on in the US but that the technology has been around for a while. The question is will it be successful in the US and on a broad scale or as you mention only in high density areas?

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