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Saturday, Sep 23, 2023

Giving Parked Cars a Lift

The residents of a Van Nuys apartment complex are getting a taste of the future – Jetsons style. No, their cars don’t literally fly, but the complex features a fully automated parking structure that whisks cars into 16 slots stacked on three floors with the wave of a key. Automated parking structures are nothing new in New York and Europe but this one is the first of its kind locally at an apartment complex. It follows the opening of a similar structure a few months ago at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. The steel system uses pallets and lifts to fit the vehicles compactly into a three-story structure similar to how automated warehouses store and retrieve goods. And though it sounds expensive, since it requires less space and is built like an erector set with no concrete, the costs per stall are lower than traditional garages, said Christopher Alan, who developed the parking structure and owns the apartment building. Alan developed the system after realizing a traditional garage in his Savannahs apartments at 14039 Burbank Blvd. in Van Nuys, would be a tight fit. He considered buying one from an existing manufacturer but instead worked with Omron Group, a Japanese company that has a large industrial automation division. The partners spent three years and $15 million to perfect the system and now hope to sell it to other developers nationwide. Alan said he has about 100 parties interested already in the system he is marketing as AutoParkiT. – Lucy Guanuna

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