Automated Robotic Parking

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Old Capital Green development features ‘Green’ Garage

Posted on | August 25, 2010 | No Comments

An automated parking garage with robot valets is one of the features of a $27 million proposed parking structure and communal air-conditioning unit to accommodate the $1.3 billion Old Capitol Green development in downtown Jackson.

Courtesy Boomerang Systems
Old Capitol Green developer Full Spectrum South proposes to build a parking garage using robot valets to save space.

“Our engineering accomplishments include the world’s tallest amusement-park ride, the world’s fastest roller coaster in Japan and the world’s next-fastest roller coaster in Germany, but we’ve put our technology to use within the last four years in parking,” Don Jagoda, sales director for New Jersey-based Boomerang Systems, said at a Jackson Redevelopment Authority meeting yesterday.

JRA members voted to form a funding strategy with Capitol Green developers Full Spectrum South, which will include state and federal tax credits, Gulf Opportunity Zone bonds and a potential co-ownership with JRA. The funding plan must be executed quickly, as GO Zone bonds expire on Dec. 31, 2010.

The garage itself will reduce street parking by 50 percent and make the Old Capitol Green more pedestrian-friendly. The parking garage estimated cost is $21.3 million and the cooling system another $5.3 million. The garage and central air conditioning unit would serve multiple buildings, and will form the backbone of the greater 50-acre development that stretches the length of State Street crossing Court and Pascagoula Streets.

“We’re planning to qualify for federal and state new market tax credits of about $6 million,” said Full Spectrum Development Director Malcolm Shepherd.

If the loan comes from the state, it could have a 20-year lifespan. Senate Bill 3281, which allows Full Spectrum to borrow $20 million, sets a 20-year term. If the loan comes from the JRA, Shepherd said the company would prefer to have the maximum term available, which could be up to 30 years. Both the garage and the cooling system will draw revenue from a multitude of residential and commercial residents who use them, and ownership of the garage could fall to the JRA after seven years.

Jagoda claims Boomerang Systems’ new technology would allow developers to fit 806 parked cars into a comparatively small two-level building. The garage is able to save space by replacing parking attendants with robots, Jagoda said.

The idea of letting robots move a person’s car may initially feel unsettling, but the parking garage fits in with the development’s goal of saving electricity and space, Jagoda said. Boomerang’s multitude of robotic valets look like a tribe of red pancakes. They can reach underneath a vehicle and pick it up–turning up to 360 degrees–and carry it down a narrow lane into a parking space. The majority of the robot-occupied parking garage will be unlit to save electricity.

“It takes about two minutes for the robots to go and get your car back,” Jagoda said, describing a process similar to getting a can of Coke from a vending machine receptacle.

JRA member John Reeves, a former state representative for Jackson, said he was eager to get the process moving. He voted in accordance with other JRA members to dedicate attorneys and accountants to work with Full Spectrum to devise a $20 million bond and payment plan.

“I was impressed with the Full Spectrum presentation, and I’m excited to see this project finally turn dirt,” Reeves told the Jackson Free Press. “I voted in favor of the project while I was in the Legislature, and I’ve been optimistic that something would happen, and this is wonderful.”

The Jackson Redevelopment Authority is a quasi-governmental entity created by the city of Jackson to deal with economic development issues primarily dealing with properties. The JRA dedicates itself to acquiring; leasing and selling property, and can float bonds to finance renovation and development, city spokesman Chris Mims said.

Adapted from Jackson Free Press


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