When is the last time you left your car in a public parking garage? It may sound a little crazy to ask this, but what was your experience? Most likely, it just was parking and nothing else. Nothing special. Boring. Repetitive. Unattractive. Expensive. Time consuming.
Now, think of the potential business opportunity to give those car owners something else to enjoy – and spend money on – in addition to keeping their cars safely tended. The parking garage could actually become a ‘mobility hub’ or a ‘silo’ that could provide restful parking for delivery drivers who might need restrooms and food. After all, those large concrete buildings are usually in valuable real estate located next to destinations such as entertainment, shopping, and events venues.
Innovation is now coming to parking garages. In Chicago, an underground parking garage downtown is being converted to an e-commerce delivery center. Los Angeles parking garages house shared commercial kitchens. Denver and Seattle parking garage roofs are being used as urban greenhouses and farms. San Francisco is redeveloping a garage into a mixed-use complex with affordable housing. Other garages are using parking spots for autonomous vehicles and EV charging stations, adding integrated access controls, kiosks, valet parking, and more, all synced through mobile devices.
Technology plays a large role in the future of parking garages. High-tech cameras can read license plates, enabling drivers to buy passes online and bypass ticket taking and payments, reserving a parking spot in advance. Some garages work with car-sharing companies, bikes, food trucks, and scooters to help patrons quickly access transportation. Others are considering how to combine workspace, retail, fitness centers, and housing using pre-fabricated modules.
What would you like to see in a parking garage?
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Poll students: What has been their experiences with parking garages? What is negative? What could be done to improve parking garages?
- View FlashPark website: https://www.flashparking.com/products/
- Show video – why parking lots will disappear: https://youtu.be/XMt4zEEHxv4
- Discuss the impact of ride-sharing services and autonomous vehicles on parking garages.
- Divide students into teams. Have each team select a parking garage in the area.
- Research the garage, number of spots, footprint, revenue, usage.
- Have each team redesign the garage to be more innovative and useful.
- Debrief the exercise and select a winning design.
Source: Axios; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources