Look Down to See Profits Go Up

Unless they sit on oil or natural gas deposits, investors and property developers have long been limited to making profit primarily from what they could put on top of their property. Underground parking, has often been seen as too costly to develop, except in highly urbanized areas - and only then when a new large building is part of the development.
Automated parking systems (APS) are changing the conventional wisdom about underground parking. An article in September 2012 edition of the International Parking Institute (IPI) magazine suggests that APS can make the underground parking much more financially attractive than is possible with conventional multi-story parking garages. The article suggests that the building cost per underground parking space of an APS is 40% less than that of a conventional parking garage. Even adding in the mechanical system, the APS reduces the total cost by more than 25%.
The advantages of APS over conventional parking garages when it comes to underground parking are the result of: 

  • Significantly reduce structure volume requiring much less expensive excavation
  • Steel structures requiring less on-site construction than pouring large volumes of concrete, and
  • Much shorter overall construction time and time to revenue generation.
It’s unknown to what extent all of these factors are included in the IPI article. However, it seems unlikely that the value of shorter construction, less disruption and other factors that would make the APS more financially attractive have not been included in the analysis.

Higher parking fees for increased security, safety and convenience are clearly not included in the analysis. Nor are the potential for accelerated depreciation or sustainable tax credits or incentives.

The point here is not to criticize the article or the author. The point is to demonstrate why investors and developers should reconsider the profit potential of underground parking - looking down to see profits go up. For that matter, there are plenty of ways that aboveground APS can increase profits.

Contact your Skyline Parking representative to see how easily and economically underground parking can be installed when excavation is done with earth boring technology rather than shovels and trucks.


Automated Parking Systems - Parking Space Sizes

If the primary goal of automated parking systems (APS) is to minimize the footprint and volume needed to park cars, making the all parking spaces in the APS the same size works against that goal.

Cars come in all sizes, from microcars such as the Peel P50 (54in/136cm long and 41/104cm wide) to luxury sedans such as the Audi A8 (202in/513cm long and 77/195cm wide). Two P50s actually take up less space than a single A8. These are extremes, of course, but they point out an interesting challenge for automated parking systems design: what size to make the parking spaces.

Sizing all APS parking spaces to accommodate the largest car wastes space. Sizing them all for less than the largest size of car risks turning away some percentage of customers. So, what’s the answer?

Perhaps the best answer is having parking spaces of different sizes - one size for compact or mid-size cars and one size for larger cars. Than pick a ratio for the number of each size parking space. 70% mid-size/30% full-size; 80/20; 60/40? Local statistics about car sizes probably provides a guide for this ratio.

This multi-size parking space solution requires one other thing: a means to determine the size of each car entering the APS. With information on the car size, the APS control system can place each car in the smallest possible parking space…minimizing the APS size while maximizing the number of parking spaces.

One other thought on the subject of different sized parking spaces: can it be done with a pallet system? It may be possible but potentially degrades parking and retrieval times to the point of being impractical.

Of course, your Skyline Parking representative will be happy to provide more details on its automatic car (dimension) scanning system and how best to optimize multi-size parking spaces.