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Block 97: Proposed Automated Parking Garage

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13 hours ago, thedistrict84 said:


I’m guessing not very quickly. 1,400 vehicle capacity with maybe a dozen or so loading bays. I guess we won’t know for sure until we see the layout, but I’m not optimistic this will be practical in that kind of scenario. 

 

Yeah, I imagine it'd be a mess. I think it works in a situation where valet parking works, but in a situation where everyone wants to leave at about the same time (like a baseball game, or 5PM on a Tuesday in an office building), it might not be ideal.

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17 hours ago, thedistrict84 said:


I’m guessing not very quickly. 1,400 vehicle capacity with maybe a dozen or so loading bays. I guess we won’t know for sure until we see the layout, but I’m not optimistic this will be practical in that kind of scenario. 

Just like a bag of chips in a vending machine, someone's car is going to get stuck on the way out.

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11 minutes ago, Purdueenginerd said:

 

There are gonna be some sick neon lights for sure on this facade. 

 

One can hope. Probably will be LED though. Oh well. Houston could easily be the city of neon. Just seems to fit the vide here.

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15 hours ago, Luminare said:

 

One can hope. Probably will be LED though. Oh well. Houston could easily be the city of neon. Just seems to fit the vide here.

 

LED lighting is more environment friendly, and cheaper to run and maintain. It also withstands storms better, especially with flying debris. If it were my building, neon wouldn't be on the table at all.

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6 hours ago, Ross said:

 

LED lighting is more environment friendly, and cheaper to run and maintain. It also withstands storms better, especially with flying debris. If it were my building, neon wouldn't be on the table at all.

Yes, leave the neon for Dallas.

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54 minutes ago, Nate99 said:

Still wondering how the automated part works. 

 

Most work with the car parked on a little sled, and the system moves the sled around. This video isn't great, but you will get the gist.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, wilcal said:

 

Most work with the car parked on a little sled, and the system moves the sled around. This video isn't great, but you will get the gist.  

 

 

 

I actually think its a good video. Very simple, but helps illustrate the basic functions. In the video it says that retrieval is 2 mins? If thats the case then that is pretty quick considering that at the quickest, in analog, it will take a person 2-4mins to find and get to there car (if its a two story garage), and then you factor the time to get out of the garage manually (usually the the same amount of time with traffic in the garage itself). This also doesn't factor the amount of time people typically get lost looking for their car. I don't know what the cost differences are for this, but while it might be more expensive for the system itself it will definitely save money in the amount of space required overall since you don't have to factor in ramps and the space necessary for a two way drive (24' typically which would be reduced to around 19', or the typical length of a parking stall). If anything, even if it doesn't save money overall it will save money in the long run because you should be able to dedicate more space to people than to cars. I don't know why we aren't switching to this model more and more if its out there, functions, and is already a proven concept.

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3 hours ago, Luminare said:

I actually think its a good video. Very simple, but helps illustrate the basic functions. In the video it says that retrieval is 2 mins? If thats the case then that is pretty quick considering that at the quickest, in analog, it will take a person 2-4mins to find and get to there car (if its a two story garage), and then you factor the time to get out of the garage manually (usually the the same amount of time with traffic in the garage itself). This also doesn't factor the amount of time people typically get lost looking for their car. I don't know what the cost differences are for this, but while it might be more expensive for the system itself it will definitely save money in the amount of space required overall since you don't have to factor in ramps and the space necessary for a two way drive (24' typically which would be reduced to around 19', or the typical length of a parking stall). If anything, even if it doesn't save money overall it will save money in the long run because you should be able to dedicate more space to people than to cars. I don't know why we aren't switching to this model more and more if its out there, functions, and is already a proven concept.

 

It's volumetrically more efficient, since you don't need door space, head space, turning space, ramps, etc. And the retrieval time for a single vehicle compares favorably to valet parking or a traditional garage, when you consider elevator/stair time to reach your car, then driving time to reach the exit.

 

However, where it compares unfavorably is throughput. Assuming there are 8 drop-off/retrieval bays (not sure if that's the right number or not), and it takes 2 minutes on average to retrieve a car, that's 240 vehicles per hour. Which means it would take the better part of 6 hours to fully empty this 1400-car garage. I know it can seem like forever to get out of the Toyota Center garage after a Rockets game, but it's a lot faster than 6 hours.

 

 

 

 

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If your car gets stuck somewhere during the retrieval process, can you shake the whole garage to get it out?

 

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4 hours ago, Luminare said:

 

I actually think its a good video. Very simple, but helps illustrate the basic functions.  If anything, even if it doesn't save money overall it will save money in the long run because you should be able to dedicate more space to people than to cars. I don't know why we aren't switching to this model more and more if its out there, functions, and is already a proven concept.

 

Ok ok it's not too bad :)

 

I think that we probably haven't switched to this model because the electronics would have to cost less than the space savings, and that probably only makes sense where the land is $$$.

 

Nice to think that we're getting there in Houston :)

 

 

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15 hours ago, wilcal said:

I think that we probably haven't switched to this model because the electronics would have to cost less than the space savings, and that probably only makes sense where the land is $$$.

 

Nice to think that we're getting there in Houston :)

 

 

If you're working within an existing building envelope and want to maximize capacity, or if you have a height restriction, then it may be worth paying a premium for a robotic system. 

 

But if, as in this case, you're building on a greenfield, without height restrictions, then the reason to go automated instead of traditional is because of construction costs, not land costs. That is, it has to be cheaper to build and operate than a traditional garage. Estimates I've seen (granted these are mostly from parking system suppliers) put the construction costs somewhere between 60 and 100% of a similar capacity traditional garage.

 

Here's why that's interesting: Currently, a lot of neighborhoods fall into a trap where land values aren't high enough to justify the cost of structured parking, so the spaces required by the city's parking requirements get built as surface lots. The resulting low density prevents the underlying land values from increasing to the point that structured parking is viable. If the lower end of that construction cost range turns out to be true (and it should get cheaper over time as the industry matures) then the land cost at which structured parking makes sense falls from, say $100/sf to $60/sf, and there are already plenty of neighborhoods in Houston with land values in that ballpark, which means more new retail development could include structured parking instead of surface parking, which would add to density, and in turn make the land value higher.

 

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39 minutes ago, Angostura said:

 

If you're working within an existing building envelope and want to maximize capacity, or if you have a height restriction, then it may be worth paying a premium for a robotic system. 

 

But if, as in this case, you're building on a greenfield, without height restrictions, then the reason to go automated instead of traditional is because of construction costs, not land costs. That is, it has to be cheaper to build and operate than a traditional garage. Estimates I've seen (granted these are mostly from parking system suppliers) put the construction costs somewhere between 60 and 100% of a similar capacity traditional garage.

 

Here's why that's interesting: Currently, a lot of neighborhoods fall into a trap where land values aren't high enough to justify the cost of structured parking, so the spaces required by the city's parking requirements get built as surface lots. The resulting low density prevents the underlying land values from increasing to the point that structured parking is viable. If the lower end of that construction cost range turns out to be true (and it should get cheaper over time as the industry matures) then the land cost at which structured parking makes sense falls from, say $100/sf to $60/sf, and there are already plenty of neighborhoods in Houston with land values in that ballpark, which means more new retail development could include structured parking instead of surface parking, which would add to density, and in turn make the land value higher.

 

 

 

That's very interesting. 

 

I just spent some time looking at this solution provider: https://cityliftparking.com/solutions

 

My thinking is that surely there would have to be significant size requirements for an automated system to work, but this may not be the case. 

 

IIRC, this site was originally rendered to have parking on the roof before some design changes, so they clearly thought that there was a shot at having some expensive/extreme parking options to add more retail.

 

sfNYfmR.png

 

wvyjllJ.png

 

That's still a huge chunk of the lot on parking with none of it covered. 

 

I wonder how much this design could be changed to integrate more retail space even with houston's parking requirements.

 

The only system that CityLift offers that might work is the Puzzle Mechanical Parking. Spec sheet

 

 

I think this style requires you to have one open space on each level except for the pit and the top level. This is a four level with pit example, so I think you would get 10 spots in the space of 3. They offer a tandem version (double thickness) so it might even be possible to have a system that allows for tandem parking just above certain levels which would allow to to effectively park cars on the roof.

 

You could end up with something a little bit like this. Green would be additional retail space. An increase of about 40-50%. There's 50 parking spaces I think, so lets say you need about 75:

 

d1tWJZY.png

 

It's probably feasible (assuming you could get pickups to fit), I just wonder what the ROI would be getting one extra tenant and everyone getting some extra SF.

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45 minutes ago, wilcal said:

 

 

That's very interesting. 

 

I just spent some time looking at this solution provider: https://cityliftparking.com/solutions

 

My thinking is that surely there would have to be significant size requirements for an automated system to work, but this may not be the case. 

 

IIRC, this site was originally rendered to have parking on the roof before some design changes, so they clearly thought that there was a shot at having some expensive/extreme parking options to add more retail.

 

sfNYfmR.png

 

wvyjllJ.png

 

That's still a huge chunk of the lot on parking with none of it covered. 

 

I wonder how much this design could be changed to integrate more retail space even with houston's parking requirements.

 

The only system that CityLift offers that might work is the Puzzle Mechanical Parking. Spec sheet

 

 

I think this style requires you to have one open space on each level except for the pit and the top level. This is a four level with pit example, so I think you would get 10 spots in the space of 3. They offer a tandem version (double thickness) so it might even be possible to have a system that allows for tandem parking just above certain levels which would allow to to effectively park cars on the roof.

 

You could end up with something a little bit like this. Green would be additional retail space. An increase of about 40-50%. There's 50 parking spaces I think, so lets say you need about 75:

 

d1tWJZY.png

 

It's probably feasible (assuming you could get pickups to fit), I just wonder what the ROI would be getting one extra tenant and everyone getting some extra SF.

 

This is where the reintegration of alleyways could make this even more efficient. Then you can just drive into the alley and even if its a small residential lot turned into a business they could probably configure a system that is 3 spaces wide, but 3 spaces tall to fulfill their requirements.

 

Really like the diagram. In fact I've been thinking a lot about the implications of such mechanics for small sites. Ideally we don't want to have sites or the city at large subservient to the needs of cars, but image someone wanted to build a small apartment on a small residential lot or  2 combined. They could then build it in the way other cities build them where its from property line to property line, and then throw the mechanical automated lift in the back that actually takes you up to the unit that you live in with this puzzle system. That would be fascinating.

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That's pretty slick in operation.  It's probably already covered in the FAQ's, but my first worry is for reliability.  As pointed out, losing a bag of Funyuns is one thing, not being able to get your vehicle while simultaneously blocking everyone else from their ability to go home is quite another. 

 

That's a lot of moving parts to service too. 

Edited by Nate99
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31 minutes ago, Nate99 said:

That's pretty slick in operation.  It's probably already covered in the FAQ's, but my first worry is for reliability.  As pointed out, losing a bag of Funyuns is one thing, not being able to get your vehicle while simultaneously blocking everyone else from their ability to go home is quite another. 

 

That's a lot of moving parts to service too. 

 

True, but I think all of these questions, and subsequently how much you like the answer, will depend on what you value most: more autonomy, or more efficiency. The current parking lot model that we all use is dictated by a desire for maximum autonomy, while the alternative is for maximum efficiency. Would be great if the system can improve down the line where it comes to a middle ground of both, but at this point, as our city becomes ever more denser, we will probably move to a more "max efficiency" model of parking rather than "max autonomy". In the meantime it will be great to have both solutions, so if someone wants to have that autonomy to go to there car without waiting for others then they can, but if someone just wants to park their car and forget about it then they can as well.

Edited by Luminare

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21 minutes ago, Luminare said:

 

True, but I think all of these questions, and subsequently how much you like the answer, will depend on what you value most: more autonomy, or more efficiency. The current parking lot model that we all use is dictated by a desire for maximum autonomy, while the alternative is for maximum efficiency. Would be great if the system can improve down the line where it comes to a middle ground of both, but at this point, as our city becomes ever more denser, we will probably move to a more "max efficiency" model of parking rather than "max autonomy". In the meantime it will be great to have both solutions, so if someone wants to have that autonomy to go to there car without waiting for others then they can, but if someone just wants to park their car and forget about it then they can as well.

 

It's great to have options, and as you point out, this has particular value that other approaches do not. The market can generally work out the kinks, and it is very interesting that it is being considered here. 

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22 hours ago, wilcal said:

 

My thinking is that surely there would have to be significant size requirements for an automated system to work, but this may not be the case. 

 

 

The smallest feasible size for automated systems is much, much smaller than tradition parking structures. The smaller a parking structure (in footprint) the higher the percentage of square footage taken up by ramps and aisles, so below a certain number of spaces it becomes either economically or physically impossible to do structured parking. Since automated systems have no ramps or aisles, they can be feasible at very low numbers of spaces.

 

One of the reason we have very few standalone restaurant sites is that the parking requirement (10 per 1000 sf) results in a lot coverage ratio of around 25%, with the rest dedicated to parking, whereas a strip center (5 spaces per 1000 sf) can have a lot coverage closer to 50%, which gives the developer 2X the leaseable space for the same land cost. But if you can use an automated system to park 3X as many vehicles per s.f., you could put a 4,000 s.f. restaurant on an 8,000 s.f lot and still meet your parking requirement.

 

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2 hours ago, Angostura said:

 

The smallest feasible size for automated systems is much, much smaller than tradition parking structures. The smaller a parking structure (in footprint) the higher the percentage of square footage taken up by ramps and aisles, so below a certain number of spaces it becomes either economically or physically impossible to do structured parking. Since automated systems have no ramps or aisles, they can be feasible at very low numbers of spaces.

 

One of the reason we have very few standalone restaurant sites is that the parking requirement (10 per 1000 sf) results in a lot coverage ratio of around 25%, with the rest dedicated to parking, whereas a strip center (5 spaces per 1000 sf) can have a lot coverage closer to 50%, which gives the developer 2X the leaseable space for the same land cost. But if you can use an automated system to park 3X as many vehicles per s.f., you could put a 4,000 s.f. restaurant on an 8,000 s.f lot and still meet your parking requirement.

 

 

I would think that the sunk cost of the automation system also pushes up the feasibility threshold in terms of size. Would it make economic sense to set up an automated system just to park the vehicles of a single restaurant?

 

Also, in a traditional garage, doesn't the percentage of area devoted to ramps and aisles stay roughly the same for different garage sizes? The only part of that that seems fixed is the entrance ramp.

 

Not challenging you, just curious.

 

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20 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

I would think that the sunk cost of the automation system also pushes up the feasibility threshold in terms of size. Would it make economic sense to set up an automated system just to park the vehicles of a single restaurant?

 

 

Let's say you have a 2500 sf restaurant on a 10,000 sf lot. The city requires you to provide 25 parking spaces, at an average of 300 sf each. Business is going well, and you decide to open a second concept so you can serve more people. You can acquire a second 10,000 sf site, and build another 2500 sf restaurant with 25 surface spaces, or you can build a 50-space automated garage on 5000 sf and build a second 2500 sf restaurant on the land you already own.  Which of these options makes the most sense will depend on the relative cost of land and the parking system.

 

(In actual reality, most restaurants lease their space, so it's the developers who are making these trade-offs, but the numbers are the same.)

 

 

20 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

Also, in a traditional garage, doesn't the percentage of area devoted to ramps and aisles stay roughly the same for different garage sizes? The only part of that that seems fixed is the entrance ramp.

 

The more constrained the site, the less efficient they are. Here's a garage behind a retail/commercial building on Washington, with the ramp, stairways and elevators outlined in red:

 

562801306_Screenshot(35).png.dce375e225d739d4c72c81d6a7fa9278.png

 

The footprint is a little over 25,000 s.f., and I count ~60 spaces on the top floor, which is 420 sf per space. If the site were 40 feet wider, you could fit spaces on the ramp, and the layout would be more efficient, maybe 350 s.f. per space (comparable to a surface lot). 

 

This is about as small a footprint you can do before the layout starts getting really inefficient, and it's only three levels, so this is pretty close to the minimum size traditional parking structure that's likely to be built. So you wouldn't start thinking about structured parking for anything less than, say 150 spaces, which corresponds to a 30-40k sf retail development. So unless we do away with parking minimums, the only way small developments can feasibly move away from surface parking is with automated systems.

 

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1 hour ago, Angostura said:

 

Let's say you have a 2500 sf restaurant on a 10,000 sf lot. The city requires you to provide 25 parking spaces, at an average of 300 sf each. Business is going well, and you decide to open a second concept so you can serve more people. You can acquire a second 10,000 sf site, and build another 2500 sf restaurant with 25 surface spaces, or you can build a 50-space automated garage on 5000 sf and build a second 2500 sf restaurant on the land you already own.  Which of these options makes the most sense will depend on the relative cost of land and the parking system.

 

(In actual reality, most restaurants lease their space, so it's the developers who are making these trade-offs, but the numbers are the same.)

 

 

 

The more constrained the site, the less efficient they are. Here's a garage behind a retail/commercial building on Washington, with the ramp, stairways and elevators outlined in red:

 

562801306_Screenshot(35).png.dce375e225d739d4c72c81d6a7fa9278.png

 

The footprint is a little over 25,000 s.f., and I count ~60 spaces on the top floor, which is 420 sf per space. If the site were 40 feet wider, you could fit spaces on the ramp, and the layout would be more efficient, maybe 350 s.f. per space (comparable to a surface lot). 

 

This is about as small a footprint you can do before the layout starts getting really inefficient, and it's only three levels, so this is pretty close to the minimum size traditional parking structure that's likely to be built. So you wouldn't start thinking about structured parking for anything less than, say 150 spaces, which corresponds to a 30-40k sf retail development. So unless we do away with parking minimums, the only way small developments can feasibly move away from surface parking is with automated systems.

 

 

Ok, but you didn't really answer my question about the overhead cost for automated parking systems. I am not sure how much the equipment costs for one of these systems (and how often it needs to be replaced, and what its maintenance budget is like), but would it really make economical sense to build an automated garage just to hold 50 cars?

 

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21 hours ago, H-Town Man said:

 

Ok, but you didn't really answer my question about the overhead cost for automated parking systems. I am not sure how much the equipment costs for one of these systems (and how often it needs to be replaced, and what its maintenance budget is like), but would it really make economical sense to build an automated garage just to hold 50 cars?

 

 

Eventually, I can't see why not. You could see a business model where commercial property owners and/or tenants outsource the service, potentially at zero cost to themselves, much like they do with valet parking today. 

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