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Thread: Mechanical parking elevators

  1. #1
    Cyburbian DCBuff's avatar
    May 2005
    NW of a swamp called DC

    Mechanical parking elevators

    I have had the owner of a property asking about whether or not the City would consider allowing the mechanical parking elevators. The owner wants to increase the restaurants patron area within the his stripcenter, so he can lease the rest of the vacant retail space, but can't do it with the existing surface parking. See this web page for an example: http://www.maximlift.com/parking.html

    I have seen a number of these mechanical parking elevators used in large metropolitan downtowns, but the site I am dealing with is a strip center in a commercial suburban area and it doesn't seem fit. We have nothing in our zoning that addresses mechanical parking. Has any dealt with this before? Or have any examples of it working well in an open suburban area?

  2. #2

    Efficient, but not good business, in my opinion

    I don't consider it a substantial issue in terms of code other than compatibility of use and performance safety (ie, collapse/earthquake). They are popular in Europe and are extraordinarily efficient in denser developments. From a planning perspective, it is an aspect of case study. The greater issue lies in why the owner would foolishly choose mechanical parking at all, considering the cost. My sometimes foggy recollection is that the cost per stall with mechanical parking is approximately $7000. There are of course many forms of this type of parking, but in most cases, they are all only marginally less than structured parking. The assumption is that the cost per sq ft of land in that area with surface parking is marginally greater than the cost per stall of mechanical, which is essentially an vertical economization of the space. I hasten anyone to find a suburban example of this that is cost feasible on pro forma rents and fees. A sage property owner would simply opt for a ground lease on adjacent land, and get out of it for roughly $800 a stall.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian nerudite's avatar
    Aug 2001
    Quote Originally posted by edjumacated
    I don't consider it a substantial issue in terms of code other than compatibility of use ...[snip]
    ... A sage property owner would simply opt for a ground lease on adjacent land, and get out of it for roughly $800 a stall.
    Although you make some interesting points, I think that D.C. has it right for using and encouraging these structures. Think about the efficiency of land alone and the kind of initiatives mechanized parking could start. We waste so much space in parking lots, especially in suburbia. So to think that we can build vertical without all of the extra space devoted to drive aisles, ramps, etc. and efficiently use our land? Think of the extra savings in not having to repair the city after urban flooding due to inadequate storm drainage in the asphalt and concrete jungle.

    I think that's awesome. We could start using up all of those giant wastes of land and start infilling. Then with denser development, people will be within walking distance of more services, therefore making transit more effective reducing the need for automobilesl. We can adjust our parking standards downward. It's a big domino effect that could gain momentum and really change things (over several decades of course). Or maybe, I'm just too optimistic.

    DCBuff: I'm not sure how much help you'll get out of us, as most of the N. Americans here don't have experience with your situation. Supposedly D.C. has one of two in the U.S. So be proud to be the first of hopefully many to follow in the US. I was half-joking about the extent that these may change things, but hey... every little bit helps right? When you start looking at the costs of providing these spaces, try to point out some of the stormwater savings, flood control savings, etc. Not to mention it will be easier to control the pollution in a garage setting, in my experience. So document your experiences and write something useful in Planning magazine. We're all waiting to see how these work out in N. America.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Aug 2001
    South Milwaukee
    I have seen them effective for "daily" parking of commuters coming into dense environments, where they park and stay all day. I have not seen an effective use in a retail / high turn over environment such as a restaurant or strip mall.

    IMHO screening is a must. They are tragically UGLY.

    Realted point: Are they drip proof? I dont want some 1980's K-Car (sorry Donk) leaking fluids on my car.

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