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Thread: Repurposing vacant office into parking structure

  1. #1
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    Repurposing vacant office into parking structure

    Hi, I'm new to Cyburbia. Looks like a good group of folks.

    I am looking at a vacant office building conversion to a parking structure. The area has numerous vacant historic buildings but no parking, so providing parking would allow the renovation and re-tenanting of these local treasures.

    The building is 5 floors plus a basement. Each floor is approximately 12,600sf. The building dimmensions are 90' x 140' with 3 rows of 6 internal columns spaced roughly 20' apart. The plan is to add one concrete ramp per floor to allow two way traffic.

    Since we are in the concept stage, it is too early to hire a parking consultant.

    My main questions are:
    1) how do I find an efficient layout?
    2) if the neighboring building becomes a 100 room hotel, how many spaces might they need?

    Any ideas you have would be appreciated.

    Moderator note:
    ~Gedunker
    Welcome to Cyburbia! Since your thread isn't really an "Introduce Yourself" thread, but one about design issues, I've moved it to this more appropriate forum. Thanks and carry on!
    Last edited by Gedunker; 08 Dec 2010 at 8:11 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus
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    First consult with a structural engineer about your proposal.
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  3. #3
    maudit anglais
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    Welcome to Cyburbia!

    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    First consult with a structural engineer about your proposal.
    What he said.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by JNA View post
    First consult with a structural engineer about your proposal.
    Yes, this is absolutely the first step you need to take. A reinforced concrete industrial building might bear the load, but most other buildings will not. You can ballpark the rest by trying some layouts of your own, and simply looking at the city's requirements for parking stalls with hotels.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
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    I would question whether an office building could be turned into a parking structure. Cars are heavy. As other said, a structural engineer would know.

    As for the number of spaces needed and how to configure them, there are multiple sources for this information. A small but useful book is The Parking Handbook for Small Communities. This has information on basic parking design standards, parking facility layout, how to conduct a parking demand survey, and other useful information. As for a hotel, I'm used to seeing one space per room as an acceptable minimum, so a 100 room hotel would need at least 100 spaces (sourced from ITE parking generation data).

    As this sounds like a downtown area, you would probably want to examine shared parking. I wouldn't think you have to immediately create a parking structure to service your area before conducting a parking survey. There can be a surprising amount of parking available in downtowns once you start looking for it. I have seen many downtown areas where each building has its own dedicated parking that is not shared with the public (and is often empty when the primary user doesn't need it).

  6. #6
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Detroit has a few examples of these. The most famous has been in several movies and involves the Michigan Theatre where the theatre itself was turned into a multi-story car park.

    The other two examples include the Fisher Building and the First National Building. who both have parking within the building. If you look into certain windows you can see cars parked inside the building and going up several floors. Unfortunately, I do not have a good handle on whether these last two were always like this or were conversions. Both buildings were built in the 1920's and have had parking for as long as I can remember. The Fisher Building is named after the Fisher Brothers who built car bodies for General Motors so either way would not be a surprise.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  7. #7
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    Thanks!

    Great stuff, thanks guys!

    We've had a structural engineer walk the building and his initial response is that the building is suitable for conversion to parking. Of course, he will have to do a detailed study and run the numbers before we can be sure.

    Any other sources or ideas on layout are more than welcome.

    We've seen parking elevators advertised for $250k and would have to add to that installation and miscellaneous parts, but this price would be far cheaper than installing concrete ramps. Has anyone ever dealt with a parking elevator?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian
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    My gut feeling is that parking elevators would be fine for resident parking but not for customer parking. Initially there might be a novelty factor, but after a while most people would be concerned that their car might get stuck up on one of the higher levels if the elevator breaks. In a regular building if the elevators stop working everyone can use the stairs, but for a car elevator unless there is also a ramp (which would defeat the purpose of the elevator) all cars parked on the upper level will be stuck until the elevator gets fixed. This perception may change as more-and-more parking elevators get built and people come to trust them more, but right now I would really research how well they would be used before going that route.

    The building is 5 floors plus a basement. Each floor is approximately 12,600sf. The building dimmensions are 90' x 140' with 3 rows of 6 internal columns spaced roughly 20' apart. The plan is to add one concrete ramp per floor to allow two way traffic.
    BTW - This size and column spacing works out quite well for parking. You should be able to get 28 parking space per level with a 60 ft. long ramp connecting levels, or 26 spaces per level with a 75ft. long ramp. The length of the ramp required will depend on the height of the floors and the slope your willing to work with. This is assuming all the stairwells and other internal obstacles can be re-located efficiently.
    Last edited by Howl; 09 Dec 2010 at 10:05 AM.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I will agree with Howl. In addition to concerns about the elevator being out of service, and the longer-term added costs for its maintenance, there is the inconvenience factor to consider. Especially at busy times in the morning and evening, a customer may have to wait for several minutes to be able to park or get their car out of the garage. After a couple times being late for a meeting or late to work, or waiting impatiently to be able to get out and go home, you will find that people may prefer to park elsewhere.
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  10. #10
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    Thanks!

    Good feedback. Thanks.

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