When residents drive into the parking garage at Camden Grand Parc Apartments in Washington, D.C., all they have to do is pull onto an automatic platform and park. Then, using an electronic card, they activate a parking lift that lowers their car underground. Once residents are ready to leave, they just swipe their electronic card at the garage entrance, and the car is delivered to the ground level automatically.
Instead of having to circle a block multiple times or to stake out a parking garage to find an open spot, residents at the 105-unit Camden Grand Parc are taking advantage of this 24-hour automatic system. Besides taking the frustration out of the daily pursuit of available parking, another key benefit is the privacy and security the system affords residents, says Carmen Klein, assistant manager for the apartments. For instance, residents can avoid having a stranger drive their car or needing to walk through a dim parking garage at night.
Klein is onto something. From automatic door-to-door systems to valet services, an increasing number of multifamily properties are finding novel ways to provide residential parking in areas with limited space.
A NEW MOVEMENT The trend to automate parking, while not widespread, is taking root across the country, as developers face tighter lots and a higher density of residents with cars.
“These systems are being used a lot in suburban communities where properties don't have site space to hold a ramp system,” says David Taxman, developer for Desman Associates, a parking and transportation firm headquartered in New York City. “They are being used to triple- and double-park cars.”
Norm Brudigam agrees. “The use of the automatic and mechanical lifts gives managers additional lanes [and] eliminates self-parking and ramp-access garages,” says the president of Klaus Car Parking Systems, a Lafayette, Calif.-based dealer of German-made automatic parking lifts.
Brudigam adds that the majority of these systems are being built in coastal markets. The company has installed platforms in California, New York, and Florida. Of the 120 parking systems Klaus Car Parking Systems' regional office in California has installed, 80 percent were done for multifamily properties, he explains.
DOING MORE WITH LESS As the demand for parking continues to grow, these new automatic and mechanical systems are being installed at more and more multifamily properties throughout the United States. And the benefits are myriad.
At Acton Courtyard in Berkeley, Calif., an apartment complex with 72 units and 75 parking spaces, Klaus Car Parking System installed puzzle lifts in 2003. This semi-automatic parking system was the perfect solution for maximizing the property's garage capacity.
Bryant Townsend, resident manager at Acton Courtyard, says that the automatic parking system “lets us fit more cars here than we could using a flat or regular system.” Because the apartments are only a few blocks from the University of California at Berkeley, students are able to use the garage, too.