IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Parking Spaces Come to You in New Automated Garages

How automated garages work: you drive up, you or a worker push a few buttons into a keypad or smartphone app, and mechanical arms and other devices take your car to a spot within the garage.

Parking garage
(TNS) — Garages that essentially work like giant vending machines could become part of new developments in downtown Boca Raton.

How they work: you drive up, you or a worker push a few buttons into a keypad or smartphone app, and mechanical arms and other devices take your car to a spot within the garage.

When you’re ready to leave, you go back to the keypad or pull up your app, press another few buttons and the machine brings your car back to you.

There are no driving lanes in the garages, which advocates say help reduce car crashes, lower CO2 emissions and save time people would spend looking for open spaces.

“Instead of you driving around inside … looking for a parking space, the parking space is coming to you,” said Paul Bates, a representative of ParkPlus, a New Jersey-based manufacturer of automated parking systems.

The garages, popular in Europe and Asia, also take up less space than a conventional parking garage.

“They provide an efficient method to park cars,” Boca Raton City Councilwoman Monica Mayotte told the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Board approved Thursday new rules for downtown parking garages that could allow the vending machine style garages in the area generally near Palmetto Park Road and U.S. 1 around Mizner Park. Next, the City Council will take up the rules.

Thursday’s decision allows three different types of mechanical parking units:

  • Individual mechanical lifts: One mechanical space stacked above another in only two levels, operated by a valet or attendant and not part of a bigger automated parking system;
  • Mechanical parking, lifts or platforms: A semi-automated mechanism that lifts vehicles vertically to make space to park other vehicles below. A valet or attendant is not required but a code-activated switch and safety gates are required;
  • Fully automated parking: A system using some combination of devices such as elevators, shuttles, turntables or hoists to move unoccupied vehicles to separate storage areas. The mechanical devices may be robotic and computers control and manage the systems.

At least one proposed development downtown includes plans an automated garage. Aletto Square would include 93 luxury apartments, a rooftop restaurant and office space. If approved, Aletto Square would include the first automated garage in Boca, likely to open sometime in 2024.

The technology, while unusual in South Florida, is not totally new. The first one in the state was approved in Fort Lauderdale in 2005. Prior to that, only two fully automated parking systems existed in the entire country; one in Hoboken, N.J., and another in Washington, D.C. Hybrid models have also existed in New York City for almost two decades.

This wasn’t the first attempt to bring these garages to the city. In 2015, the prospect of these types of garages simmered in various city committees, but they never amounted to anything at the time.

“I feel it is important that our building codes address this type of garage system so if and when a project includes one in their plans, our building code will provide the parameters for the developer,” Mayotte said. “If this type of parking system is approved, it will provide opportunities for future projects to incorporate them into their plans.”

© 2022 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.