February 2007 marked the third time in U.S. history that a fully automated garage opened its computerized doors to the paying public. New York City welcomed the garage as a complement to a retail and condo complex going up in Chinatown.

Several years ago, it seemed America was on the verge of a parking makeover with the first fully automated garages making big entrances in Hoboken, N.J., and Washington, D.C., and many others slated to open in urban locales.

But a spate of circumstances, including well publicized problems surrounding Hoboken's garage, stringent government building codes, reluctant developers and an uncertain public, among other barriers, kept the garages overseas.

However, the new garage, amid Manhattan's bustling Chinatown, may change how deals are struck between the developers, owners and governments who build these types of facilities.

"The problem with automated parking in the U.S. has been that most of the garages have been proposed on sort of a grand scale," said Josh Van Horn, founder, editor and publisher of Parking Today magazine. "The fact is that in Europe and Asia, most of the garages or automated garages are relatively small."

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Jessica Weidling  |  Contributing Writer