Great read on automated parking spaces being a main driver for sales.
JNL's own John Roy was interviewed by the Valet Spot about parking investing (of course). It's a candid interview that any new or experienced parking lot investor will benefit from hearing.
Today, we are excited to have on the show, John Roy of JNL Parking, a company that provides parking lot broker services. He’s also an investor, a certified parking professional, and an operator in the parking industry.
On this episode of The Valet Spot, John shares his expertise in the field of investing and increasing the value of parking lots.
Tune into to find out detailed information about which parking lot features and services have the best return on investment. You’ll also find out how to communicate effectively with a parking lot owner so that the doors of opportunity may open and start you on your parking lot investment journey.
Listen to This Interview to Learn:
This is the kind of news you want to read if you are a parking investor. It confirms once again that parking is a scarce resource and when developers are hungry for land it's the first place they turn to fill the need. Here are two recent articles that highlight that this trend is not going anywhere in the near future:
Sayonara Parking Garage, Hello Ubiquitous Luxury Housing
April 9, 2014, by Zoe Rosenberg
It seems the Post has also caught onto the trend that parking lot parcels are being snatched up and converted to luxury condos. This time, talk centers around an Upper West Side garage on West 77th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. The for-sale lot is being marketed as a residential teardown that can be expanded from its current 7,700-square-feet to 77,000-square-feet. The Post expects the lot will fetch in the ballpark of $61 million, or $800 per square-foot, thanks to its neighbor, the luxury rental development The Larstrand.
The garage at 219-233 West 77th Street is not the only lot to grace the market with development aspirations. There have been quite a few before it; a few of which we mapped. The Post notes that Finance Department statistics declare a loss of five parking garages in Manhattan in the last two tax years. In the past, Brooklyn has seen a loss of 40 garages, the Bronx has given up 30 garages, and Staten Island has lost three garages. The trend extends most heavily in Queens, where 44 garages have been snatched up for development in years past. The trend accompanies a privatization of parking spaces—found increasingly under new luxury rental and condo buildings—making it even more of a challenge and a privilege to have and park a car in the city.
Upper West Side Garage to Turn into Cushy Condos
April 8, 2014, By Lois Weiss
Another Manhattan garage building will bite the dust to be reincarnated as a place to park people.
The Upper West Side garage at 219-223 W. 77th St. is on a plot of 7,700 square feet. Sources said it is being marketed as a residential tear-down that can be redeveloped to 77,000 square feet.
Located on the north side of the street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue, and next to the new 20-story Larstrand rental, it would not surprise us to see bids rising to or above $800 per square foot — more than $61 million.
Calls to the Avison Young marketing team of Vincent Carrega, Neil Helman, Jon Epstein and Charles Kingsley were not returned.
Like other brokerages, this group has been active in the garage-sale market. Finance Department statistics show Manhattan had 865 garages in the tax year 2012-2013, but 860 in 2013-2014 — a loss of five garages and an untold number of spaces.
It also seems more are being marketed every day.
Brooklyn, the land of the hipster bikester, is losing even more — so far, 40 have bitten the dust.
Thirty are gone in the Bronx and three in Staten Island.
Queens is the biggest auto-space loser, however, as 44 went down for the count.
The good news is that the city’s tax rolls will increase as expensive luxury apartments take the place of these lower-valued garages. The bad news is that finding a place to park a car is getting a lot harder.
While a few parking spots have already been sold as a condo development perk, we predict that some entrepreneur will buy or take their current garage building, split it up, and sell all the spaces as car condos.
As the New Year is upon us, we like to reflect upon the deals from year past that were made, lost, and the great opportunities in parking investing for 2014.
No other story reflects the optimism, spirit, and entrepreneurship of the parking industry more than the story of “Nick Antonelli”.
Nick was the son of Italian immigrants that settled in Washington DC. His father sold Olive oil on the streets and his mother died at a very young age. After returning from WWII, Mr. Antonelli got a job as a valet attendant and was so poor that he survived on nothing more than cornflakes and water. The boarding house where he lived was so bad, that he spent week-ends killing rats and bugs with Kerosene. This however, did not deter Mr. Antonelli from his ultimate dream of one day buying a parking lot.
Read his full story as written by Emma Brown from the Washington Post:
D.C. real estate, parking-lot magnate Dominic F. 'Nick' Antonelli Jr. dies at 88
By Emma Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Dominic F. "Nick" Antonelli Jr. grew up so poor that he survived at times on nothing but cornflakes and water. After dropping out of high school, he made a living as a carhop in a parking lot across from the plush Mayflower hotel in downtown Washington. He lived in a boarding house nearby, where he spent Saturdays ridding his room of bugs and rats with the careful use of kerosene.
From those beginnings, Mr. Antonelli used determination, shrewdness and connections with the District's elite to build one of the city's largest and most powerful business empires, a conglomerate of parking lots and sprawling real estate investments that gave him a key role in shaping the development of the city and its suburbs.
Mr. Antonelli, 88, who became part-owner of the Mayflower before the collapse of his businesses forced him to declare bankruptcy in 1991, died July 19 at his home in Potomac. He had cancer.
Mr. Antonelli went into the parking-lot business in 1946 when, using carefully scrounged savings, he leased and then bought the lot where he had worked as an attendant. He eventually built a nine-floor corporate headquarters there for Parking Management Inc., the firm he founded with railroad heir Kingdon Gould Jr. By the mid-1960s, PMI operated 90 lots in the city, and the company's logo is still ubiquitous on garages in the District.
He gave generously to politicians, including Rep. John L. McMillan (D-S.C.), the longtime chairman of the House District Committee, to prevent the creation of a municipal parking authority. But he realized early on that land, rather than parking, was the key to wealth.
Working 18-hour days, the entrepreneur made millions of dollars in the post-World War II real estate boom of the 1950s and '60s. He bought and demolished hundreds of old buildings, turning the sites into parking lots until he was ready to build office buildings, apartments other profitable developments -- many of which included PMI garages.
Mr. Antonelli's real estate holdings extended into Washington's suburbs and as far afield as Panama, where he owned more than half a million acres of land, a coconut-oil refining business and a Coca-Cola bottling company. He also owned interests in a range of businesses, including tomato and cucumber farms in the Bahamas, an auto-parts manufacturer in Maine and a ship-salvaging outfit in Texas. He lived on a 22-acre estate in Potomac and occasionally spent time on his 103-foot yacht.
The key to his success, he said, was his willingness to work harder than anyone else. His first big business deal came in 1947, when he bought a pair of binoculars and rented a room on the top floor of the Willard Hotel. Camped there for several days, he counted the cars going in and out of the Great Plaza, a giant government-owned parking lot at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
When the Great Plaza came up for lease, the information Mr. Antonelli had collected gave him an edge. He submitted the winning bid and went on to operate the lucrative lot for more than 30 years.
After a rise, a fall
Decades after Mr. Antonelli's rise, however, his business empire began to falter. By the early 1960s, he had co-founded Madison National Bank and Mortgage Investors of Washington. The bank financed real estate ventures in the region and came under scrutiny for lending heavily to Mr. Antonelli and other insiders.
In 1978, Mr. Antonelli was indicted on charges of bribery. Prosecutors said that he had landed a $20 million contract to lease office space to the D.C. government in return for providing financial help to mayoral aide Joseph Yeldell, who owned a struggling travel business and was unable to repay his loans from Madison National Bank on time.
Mr. Antonelli and Yeldell were convicted by a Washington jury, but the case was retried in Philadelphia after it came to light that the father of one of the jurors had worked for -- and been fired by -- Mr. Antonelli. The second time around, the two men were acquitted.
Mr. Antonelli, an intensely private man who rarely spoke to the media, stayed largely out of the news until the early 1990s. He was forced to seek Chapter 11 protection in 1991 when Madison National Bank failed, a recession slowed the real estate market and several loans that he had guaranteed for other developers went bad, leaving him with more than $250 million in debt that he couldn't repay.
In one of Washington's largest and most complicated personal bankruptcy cases, the same financiers who had courted Mr. Antonelli's business for decades were now creditors who examined his business records and convoluted partnerships in a years-long search for assets.
In 1993, Antonelli reached a settlement that required him to turn over his considerable business and interests and sell his estate. He repaid creditors about 35 cents on the dollar; in return, he was allowed to keep $4 million, which he used to live on after buying a modest home in Potomac.
Children of immigrants
Dominic Frank Antonelli Jr. was born April 8, 1922, to Italian immigrant parents in McAlester, Okla. His mother died when he was young, and the family moved to Washington, where his father sold olive oil and his grandfather worked as a marble carver -- six of his statues adorn the Union Station entrance downtown.
Mr. Antonelli was an Army veteran of World War II. At one time, he worked in the circulation department of The Washington Post, whose former offices on E Street NW he eventually bought and leveled to create a parking lot.
His marriage to Dorothy Lee Jones ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 42 years, Judith Gwenn Dolan Antonelli of Potomac; two children from his first marriage, Lee Antonelli of Jupiter, Fla., and John Antonelli of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; and three grandchildren.
Mr. Antonelli was friends and investment partners with big names in Washington real estate, such as steakhouse entrepreneur Ulysses G. "Blackie" Augur. But even with his allies, he could be less than forthcoming during business negotiations. He once asked 10 businessmen to join a venture that required each participant to pitch in $100,000. According to the Washingtonian magazine, one of the men asked Mr. Antonelli what he planned to use the money for.
"If I have to answer all those questions, I don't want you in the deal," Mr. Antonelli reportedly said.
He was a founding member of the National Italian American Foundation and helped establish the Casa Italiana Language School adjoining Holy Rosary Church in Washington. He played at least two games of gin rummy each week: one at the University Club, where he was a member, and another at the Touchdown Club, once housed downtown in a building he owned.
2014 promises to be another great year in the parking industry. Don’t get left without a spot.
John and Lance
Nobody can ruin your parking business like the government can. We hope these Tampa airport parking lot owners fight these fees until the end. No one should have to compete with Uncle Sam. What do you think?
TAMPA -- The price of parking at privately operated, off-site lots serving Tampa International Airport passengers could increase if a new 8.5 percent Hillsborough County Aviation Authority "privilege fee" on gross parking sales is imposed, the president of A-1 Express said Monday.
Del Smith said he will meet airport Chief Executive Officer Joe Lopano Wednesday in hopes of revising the rate of the fee, which he said eventually could be passed on to customers in the form of a tax if the airport's current plan moves forward.
Smith said his lot and two others -- another three have gone out of business in the past year or so -- save consumers $2 or more a day over the airport's $9 daily fee at its economy lot and provide valet service at the same base cost to the elderly and others who cannot easily navigate airport parking where valet service costs $25 a day.
"We understand the airport needs to recoup revenue," said Smith, who also is contacting the aviation authority board members who approved the policy earlier this month and are scheduled to vote on the final agreement Nov. 7.
"We have had a free ride from a privilege fee for the 19 years we have been in business, but I just want to determine if there is any way else we can look at this," Smith said.
Case law indicates that businesses using airport facilities to make a profit from airline customers can be charged for their use of airport property, Tampa International spokeswoman Janet Zink said.
"What we are doing is not unprecedented," Zink said. " Revenue generated from the privilege fee will help maintain the airport facilities, including the roads and curbsides the off-airport parking companies use.
"If the off-airport companies choose to pass the privilege fee increase on to their customers, they still will maintain their niche as a lower-cost alternative to the convenience of on-airport parking."
The airport increased its parking rates effective Oct. 1. But those rate changes at the short-term and long-term garages affect only about 10 percent of the travelers using them, because most people either park for less than one hour, which is free, or for at least a day, which has a price cap.
The maximum daily rate for the economy garage remained unchanged at $9 a day, along with the daily rate at the short-term garage that remained unchanged at $20, while the maximum daily rate at the long-term garage increased $1 to $16.
Parking usage at the short-term garage increased 4.6 percent since Oct. 1 compared with a year ago, Zink said, despite the rates doubling from $1 to $2 for each additional 20 minutes up to the $20 daily maximum.
It's not the punch line to a joke, but rather a bizarre event that you have to see for yourself. In the spirit of Halloween, even the Parking Industry can become a little weird.
JNL Parking can help keep you away from these scary investments! Happy Halloween!
As a private parking owner, this can only make you smile. The city keeps making it harder to park, and our private parking lots will continue to fill to capacity! Great read:
L.A.'s broken-parking-meter scheme may soon expire
July 8, 2013
Remember the scene early on in “Cool Hand Luke” when Paul Newman whacks the heads off those parking meters?
I loved it. You did too -- admit it.
I don’t know whether that’s one of Mike Gatto’s favorite movies, but I hope so. He’s the Los Angeles Democratic assemblyman who wrote the bill that would smack down cities like L.A. that ticket people for parking at meters that turn out to be broken. L.A. sticks Angelenos with a $73 ticket.
It’s one of the city’s more cynical ways of making money, and Gatto wants it to stop. We already pay, as he points out, “for street maintenance, meter installation and meter upkeep.” Cities should spend their time and treasure keeping the meters working, “not squeez[ing] a double penalty out of cash-strapped citizens.”
(The bill has been passed by the Assembly and state Senate and sent to the governor.)
Did Mike Gatto ever get ticketed for parking at a broken meter? Was that the spark to the legislative fuse? I hope that’s true too.
I’ve parked at a meter, put in my money, found it broken and dutifully called the city to report it. What did the dame at the other end of the phone say to my good-deed-doing? “Move your car to another meter.” No refund, no credit, no thanks.
One in 10 L.A. city meters is broken. Many have been vandalized, although less picturesquely than in “Cool Hand Luke.” The city, like the Napoleonic Code, assumes that we are all vandals, jamming the meters to save ourselves six bits. Thus, we cannot benefit from our crime by parking free at a broken meter.
Why did it take an assemblyman to try to fix this? Why didn’t some City Council member introduce a piece of city legislation to do this?
Follow the money; follow the coins. I bet you a roll of quarters that the city does not use that $73 fine to fix the parking meters. I bet you that the city puts that $73 fine into the general fund and goes merrily along, congratulating itself on what a crafty little cash cow it’s milking. Broken meters may very well make more money than working ones; how’s that for a slick deal?
Of course people can cheat the parking rules -- does that give the city permission to out-cheat them? Enforce fair rules fairly and people won’t have grounds to complain when they get dinged for breaking them.
The new meters that accept coins or credit cards are crowding out the coin-only meters. There are nearly 40,000 of them, and fewer than a dozen are broken at any one time. If this is not a problem that will fix itself, then maybe Gatto’s bill will.
The city could do us all a bigger favor by going after the abuse of handicapped parking placards. People use fake ones, or they abuse the ones issued to their disabled relatives. You’ve seen these drivers at the grocery store or the mall. I have. A car wheels into a handicapped spot and two nimble young folk leap out and saunter off.
That’s not how it works. The handicapped person has to be in the car for the placard to apply. The city creates a scofflaw culture when it doesn’t bother to bust these crooks. On some streets in downtown L.A., every single car parked at a meter has a handicapped placard.
Sic the parking enforcement team on a few blocks of the city at a time, catch the creeps in the act and bust them big-time: Take away the placards, tow the car, fine them the same three figures that the able-bodied pay for parking in handicapped spots and note it on the cars’ records. The cheats undermine the entire handicapped parking program.
Enough L.A.-bashing. Let’s switch to Santa Monica, where the city of kumbaya sentiment has re-engineered its parking meters so that if you drive away with any time left on the meter, it’s wiped out.There’s little enough fellow-feeling around here as it is. Finding a few cents’ worth of time left on the parking meter -- or the benevolent sentiment of leaving it for a comrade-in-traffic -- is one of the few civic sharing moments we have.
Los Angeles council member Tom LaBonge has looked warily to the west and says L.A. had better not follow Santa Monica’s suit.
A few free meter moments add "a certain joy in life in the city of Los Angeles," he said. "I know they have it in their playbooks, and I don't want them to call that play."
And don’t even think of committing the random act of kindness of feeding someone’s expired meter. You can get arrested for that. Nice.
In the spring of 1979 Jerry Buss had a serious problem. As he flew over the Las Vegas desert thoughts of his meeting with Jack Cooke raced through his mind. Cooke had set a deadline and the escrow company had put in a final call for $3 million to close the deal on buying the Los Angeles Lakers.
Dr. Buss’s problem was that he was completely tapped, and his meeting with Cooke to work out a deal for the remaining $3 million had not gone well. He had less than 24 hours to come up with $3 million or watch his dream of owning an NBA team evaporate.
We can only speculate on what he was thinking on the flight back to LA, but the 1 hour flight must have seemed like an eternity. Like most winners in life, he exited the plane and immediately began to work.
His business partner Frank Mariani was able to secure a $2 million loan and Buss was able to secure the remaining $1 million from another investor. Then, with only a few hours left, Buss’ investor dropped out leaving him and his partner $1 million short.
With time continuing to work against him, Buss was forced to turn to an unlikely ally who many did not want to be indebted to... Donald Sterling (future owner of the Clippers).
While Jerry Buss became ridiculed for paying a record price for any sports franchise at the time, and being leveraged to the hilt, Buss was able to see not just a price tag of $67.5 million dollars for the transaction, but 3-4 separate assets within the purchase that if broken up could produce significantly more value than one asset alone. He would go on to prove his critics wrong.
Similar to the Lakers transaction, we advise our investors to look beyond the initial price tag or cap rate in order to see value where other investors do not. We look at three simple parameters when valuing any parking asset. These parameters are very similar to Dr. Buss’s investment model and help investors determine their own cap rate.
1) Are there other income producing assets that can be broken off and sold separately?
In the summer of 1979, after closing the Lakers deal, Dr. Buss embarked on a similar model to that we use for parking.
Rule #1 (Look for additional or increasing sources of Revenue)
Or as Chick Hearn, the long-time voice of the Lakers used to say, “The game’s in the refrigerator! The door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter is getting hard, and the Jello-O is jiggling”
On March 27th 2012, the news broke of the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers by Frank McCourt to an investment group led by former basketball star Magic Johnson and the Guggenheim group for an eye popping $2.15 Billion dollars. The sale of the Dodgers was almost three times the previous record set by any MLB team (Chicago Cubs just 3 years earlier). The sports community was intrigued, the business community perplexed, and the general public shocked. How could a man that was bankrupt, unable to meet his team’s payroll, and hounded by legions of attorneys relating to his ex-wife’s divorce pull off such a shocking deal? In just 8 years time, McCourt was able to purchase arguably one the most historic Major League Baseball franchises - with no money out of pocket (pledging his parking assets in Boston) - and turned it into a $2.15 Billion dollar pay-day.
The media had gone so far as to make fun of his business background by labeling him “the parking lot attendant” and publicly mocked him by telling him to leave LA and to return to Boston to park cars.
In a case of irony, McCourt must have listened to his critics, because behind the headline of the $2.15 Billion sale, very few people noticed that he actually took the media's advice and really did return to parking cars. You see, in the $2.15 billion dollar sale of the Dodgers, he negotiated to keep the parking lots and have the Dodgers lease back the property to his newly created company, “Blue Land”.
McCourt, through Blue Land, purchased the parking lots for $140 Million, while leasing the parking lots back to the Dodgers for $14 Million annually. While a 10% Cap rate may seem like a good deal, when one considers that McCourt paid in essence nothing for the land, it becomes the mother of all cap rates, payback periods, and sweet revenge.
If we analyze this further and apply a 6% cap rate to value the parking asset, we find that the value of his parking lot at Dodger Stadium is worth an estimated $233 Million! (and as much as $1 Billion in redevelopment value although JNL believes that one day the land deal will be worth more than the $2.15 Dodger deal). Furthermore, there are steep increases built in beginning in 2015 and every 5 years thereafter.
In a hypothetical case, the Dodgers are landlocked (talk about striking out), and may have no choice but to pay any price that McCourt could demand in the future. If you think that the Dodgers can do anything about it, they may not be able to. If McCourt decided to increase the annual parking lease to $150 million annually from the current rate of $14 million, the Dodgers might have to pay. If he increased it to $300 million annually, the Dodgers might have to pay. In fact, short of moving the team to a new location, they are at the mercy of the Parking Pirate (as some bitter fans have called him). Whatever nicknames McCourt may have accumulated during his time with the Dodgers, we at JNL prefer to call McCourt, the "Parking Genius".
If the Guggenheim group had contacted JNL, we would have negotiated a deal to keep the parking lot for the group, or at least purchase a controlling interest in Blue Land. Although not verified, according to some unconfirmed sources, the parking contract could expire as early as 2025, after that, watch out! Blue Land could change their name to Blue Sky.
Don’t be taken by parking pirates, baseball bandits, or land sharks. At JNL Parking we can help you negotiate a sale of your parking asset that will not leave money on the table, or expose you to some risks that may have been previously unforseen. In fact, we have been contacted by owners to help analyze their expiring leases, negotiate longer term leases with current clients, and to research fair market values for their lots and garages.*
Contact JNL Parking today to avoid striking out.
We’re ready when you are,
John & Lance
* This article was written as a case to illustrate the power of a parking investment in relation to sports and contracts. The figures used in this article are not a case of insider information, but rather information widely available. This is not a criticism of any party involved in the above mentioned transactions and is simply an educational op-ed piece by JNL Parking.
We're not sure if this is the future of parking or just the latest parking fad. What we do know is this is a great way to add value to your investment. As any staffed parking business owner knows, payroll is almost always the biggest expense of running a parking lot. The parking unions must just love the thought of these these!
Hate Valet? Not to Worry; Help Is at Hand
By ALEXEI BARRIONUEVO
ONE OF THE BIGGEST curses the wealthy must endure in their otherwise pampered lives is the dreaded valet parking. You toss the keys of your Bentley to a parking attendant, who ends up changing your radio presets, sweating on your seats or, worse, leaving a scratch on your pristine paint job. Is this the good life?
But imagine a different world, one free of such proletarian strivers. You pull into your high-end condo building, drive your car onto a steel pallet and shut off the engine. The glass door of the oversized elevator closes and you and your car are whisked upward at 650 feet per minute. The elevator stops on the floor of your apartment and deposits your car in your parking space. You get out and walk a few steps into your home. As an added bonus, a glass wall separates your private garage from your living room, so you can stare at your fine automobile from your couch, as if it were in a showroom.
That reality doesn’t quite exist yet in the United States.
But a Miami developer, Gil Dezer, has planned such a system for the Porsche Design Tower Miami, a luxury condo complex in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. The development, which has already sold over half of its 132 units, is expected to be ready in early 2016. In the meantime, a smattering of residential buildings in New York, Miami and Los Angeles boast fully — and semi — automated parking systems that are time savers for residents, and space savers for developers.
To me it seems like the ultimate amenity for the car-obsessed. Parking attendants, however well-meaning, are human, and a parking garage can be a house of horrors, especially in a place like Manhattan, where every inch counts. And for celebrities and billionaires trying to keep their activities as secret as possible, who’s to say whether the friendly valet isn’t a tipster for a gossip blog?
“We have some celebrities who bought specifically because they don’t have to see any valets or security when they come into the building,” Mr. Dezer said. “They don’t need to sign autographs, they don’t need to take pictures.”
In New York only one building, 200 11th Avenue, where Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban reportedly own an apartment, has created a parking system that lets residents ascend with their cars to their apartments. And it’s not even fully automated. In fact it seemed fraught with peril at first glance. Residents drive into the garage and onto a car elevator, shut off the engine, and then, once the elevator has risen to their floor, have to back their car themselves into the private space next to their unit.
It sounded to me like a recipe for scratch city, especially with my poor driving instincts. But Leonard Steinberg, a broker with Douglas Elliman who lives in the building, designed by Annabelle Selldorf, and who worked on its development, said that residents had encountered few problems with the system since the building opened in 2010. He says the elevator does not operate until the car is shut off. When the resident arrives with the car at the apartment, a sensor automatically turns on the lights and an exhaust fan in the garage.
“The only area where you have to have a little bit of skill is backing up in your garage; beyond that it is pretty basic stuff,” said Mr. Steinberg, who acknowledged that he is the only resident who doesn’t have one of the private garages. “The people that live in the building and use this system are really loving it.”
The garages are enclosed concrete structures with walls that can contain a fire for three hours, making them safe as well as soundproof, Mr. Steinberg said. “If someone crashed into a wall they would be crashing into a foot thick of concrete. There is not one bedroom or living space that abuts the garage or car elevator.”
Two Manhattan buildings — 1 York Street in TriBeCa and 123 Baxter Street in Chinatown — have automated parking systems in which the resident pulls up and steps out of the vehicle, and then the system parks the car somewhere in the garage.
At 1 York, the developer Stan Perelman, who heads Jani Real Estate, said he researched systems around the world, eventually teaming up with a New Jersey company, Park Plus, which had licensed Swiss technology for use in the United States.
Residents who bought early in the building, like Michael Hirtenstein, were skeptical at first. “It just sounded a little kooky,” said Mr. Hirtenstein, who has a 10,000-square-foot apartment he combined from five and a half separate units. “But I think it is great. Whenever there is any little problem, the service company comes and fixes it.” He has three cars parked in the garage.
The resident drives into the garage and onto a turntable. If you go too far to the right or left the computer will tell you. After shutting off the car, you exit. Then the turntable rotates your car on the elevator (so it’s facing out when it’s returned). Metal teeth grab the car underneath the tires, and a trolley then breaks away, moving the car vertically and horizontally to one of the 40 parking spaces. It remembers where it parks people’s cars based on a key fob used to retrieve it later. The whole process takes no more than a minute, Mr. Perelman said. (Mr. Hirtenstein says it takes about 75 seconds.) Motion detectors prevent the system from moving the car while someone is still in it (say if you left a kid or dog in there).The Park Plus system is capable of allowing residents to call their cars from their residences with a remote-control device or cellphone, but Mr. Perelman decided to turn that feature off. “What if you call for your car and then you get a phone call?” he said. “Your car will sit there for 20 minutes. We didn’t think it was onerous to wait 30 to 60 seconds for your car.”
For the developer, the automated system saved money and space. Park Plus built the spaces for a little over $35,000 apiece, and Mr. Perelman sold them to residents for $150,000 to $250,000, depending on the size of the car. The cars are parked only two inches apart.
There have been hiccups since residents started using the system in 2008. One woman ignored the “fold in mirrors” sign, and her Porsche got stuck in the elevator; the laser sensor refused to move it because it was perceived by the elevator as overly wide, Mr. Perelman said. Then there was the time the elevator wouldn’t move a Mercedes when a huge piece of slush fell onto the turntable and blocked a laser sensor.
In Los Angeles — arguably the car capital of the country — the automated parking technology is just starting to be used in residential buildings. Christopher Alan, a developer, said the City of Los Angeles had been hesitant for years because of safety concerns. Now the potential space savings have suddenly become attractive, he said.
Mr. Alan created a company called AutoParkiT that builds automated parking systems in partnership with Omron, a Japanese company with a subsidiary in Illinois. He showed me the system this week in an eight-apartment rental building in Sherman Oaks. It seemed to function well. The company says it is the first, in California at least, to offer an automated parking system that does not require an attendant. He is seeking to install it in several other residential buildings in both Northern and Southern California, and said he had also had discussions with developers in Miami.
But no developer seems quite as ambitious as Mr. Dezer when it comes to parking for the super-rich.
In 2008, during the height of the housing crisis, Mr. Dezer found himself stuck with some 900 apartments in Miami he couldn’t sell. He signed a licensing deal with Porsche Design and molded a concept around a building for car lovers, vowing to do something that no one else was.
After researching auto-park systems in Europe, where they have been in use for more than a decade, he contracted with an engineer who had built a special car-parking system in Germany for Volkswagen. Mr. Dezer asked the engineer to modify the system to allow for heavier cars and for passengers to be able to stay in the cars. The Porsche Design Tower’s system will be able to accommodate cars up to 8,000 pounds, including the gargantuan Rolls-Royce Phantom and a Hummer H2, he said. To deal with fire concerns, the developer plans to install a sprinkler system.
Mr. Dezer is spending $24 million to build three car lifts that will each deliver cars to 44 apartments, but sees that as a cost savings over a multilevel garage. Every apartment will have two parking spaces; they are being sold to residents for $500,000 per pair. In a building where two penthouses of 12,000 square feet have already sold for $22.5 million apiece, it seems almost like an afterthought.
That may be especially true when you consider that a Rolls-Royce Phantom Aviator Coupé runs a cool half million these days.