Parking lofts

From Berlin to New York City, car elevators and electronic parking garages have sprouted up in high-end residential developments.

In recent years, developers of high-end condominiums have seemingly added almost every possible amenity to their properties—everything from individual swimming pools to 24-hour concierge service have been offered at some of the most expensive luxury residential complexes. Now, just when you thought there were no more flourishes left, enterprising developers have found another way to attract well-heeled buyers: high-tech parking spaces.

At a new condo development in Manhattan’s Chinatown district, the property’s owners recently unveiled New York City’s first fully automated parking garage. Residents will be able to deposit their car into a space the size of a one-car garage, lock the vehicle and leave—it will then be transported via pallets and motion detectors into an underground slot.

Previously only seen in Europe and Japan—where space has long been an issue—automatic parking garages are slowly popping up across the US. The engineer behind the Chinatown parking lot, for example, has built 28 garages in 11 countries over the past decade and has already completed a project at the Summit Grand Parc, a residential building in Washington DC. The firm is now at work on three more garages in New York City. Last month, an AIG-backed development in Boston, Lovejoy Wharf, agreed to install an automated parking garage, which, at 300 units, will be the largest such project in the US.

Pushing the envelope even farther, an apartment tower under construction in Berlin would allow tenants to park their cars on their balconies. And in a proposed development in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, a car “elevator” will allow residents to drive their automobiles into garages next to their apartments.

“For a client who is haunted by paparazzi, it is a dream come true,” Leonard Steinberg, the marketing director for the building, told The New York Times.

Similar projects in the past, however, have not always met with success. In 2004, two years after a $12-million automated parking lot opened in Hoboken, New Jersey, a Cadillac DeVille fell several floors through the garage. The same thing happened to a Jeep Wrangler one year later. The company who designed the system, however, says those problems have been fixed. It is reportedly in talks to build 30 new projects in the New York City area.