Automated Robotic Parking

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New Automated Garage in Chicago

Posted on | February 28, 2011 | No Comments

Local developer VLF Development is planning Chicago’s second “green” parking garage,  a 100-car structure called Green Park Eco Garage at 1868 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Bucktown. Ground was broken on the $7 million project in December, and VLF CEO Vicki Fuller of Lakeview said the project should be open by late fall.

VLF has applied for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the Washington D.C.-based U.S Green Building Council for the garage, and its green certification depends greatly on fully automated parking, a technology that uses elevator-like, robotic palettes to lift cars into vertical spaces rather than utilize ramps to drive them upward. Parkers will be able to reserve spaces online or with smartphones, and since only the ground floor receiving area—where you park your car on the special platform—will be heated or lit, it will use less energy than a traditional garage, even with the electric lifts. When completed, it will be the first fully automated parking facility in Chicago.

“We developed the project to provide an environmentally conscious solution to urban congestion nationwide and provide a mindset of safety and convenience,” said Vicki Fuller, CEO of VLF Development. “The design is fully customized for the requirements, including fire safety and accessibility, of the city of Chicago. We actually got the first permits three years ago and have been working with the city to make sure we had compliance since.”

The LEED-NC (new construction) system offers points in its sustainable sites category for making a percentage of a new facility’s parking capacity available to low-emitting and fuel-efficient vehicles. Fuller said that VLF’s plan does not currently involve going after those points, but that they are looking into putting terminals to charge electric and hybrid cars in some of the garage’s spaces and would be open to partnering with any shared-ride service. They also plan to reserve some spaces for bicycle parking.

How will this affect the ‘hood? Well, local car-sharing service I-GO Cars is based near the site of the planned garage at 2125 W. North Ave. While I-GO CEO Sharon Feigon of Wicker Park said she would be open to using spaces in the Green Park Eco Garage for her service’s shared cars, she stressed that I-GO’s long-term goal is fewer cars. And fewer parking garages.

“I think it’s a great idea that the owners want to use technology to put more cars in a smaller space,” she said, “but we would like to see real estate in general go to better use than parking. Our goal is to give residents access to vehicles so they don’t have to own them and to put less vehicles on the road and in garages.”

Feigon said I-GO would be open to having spaces in the garage when it’s completed, since it meets the service’s criteria of having quick access to public transit (in this case, the Western Blue Line stop) and quick and easy access to I-GO cars for members. I-GO also recently signed an agreement to create a national car sharing service association with 17 other services in other cities, as well.


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