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Resistance is Futile

Co-op and condo boards are always on the lookout for additional sources of revenue – so their budget stays balanced and their monthly maintenance charges stay manageable. Many boards may not realize they’re sitting on an untapped gold mine: their garage and parking lot.

Consider the automated parking system.

An ideal space for building an automated parking system would be an existing parking lot, where cars could be parked several rows high. An automated system is environmentally friendly since engines don’t run inside a garage. Construction cost ranges from $24,000 to $26,000 per parking space, without any preparatory work, although costs can drop significantly if more than 100 spaces are needed.

Robotic systems can fail – not so much because of the robots, but because of human error. “Problems occur because people expect too much from the system,” says Ryan Astrup, a managing partner at Park Plus, a New Jersey-based company. “They drive the car in and then walk away without completing the parking process, like pushing the button. Or recently somebody pushed the emergency button instead of ‘store’ button, which shut down the whole system.”

But not to worry, Big Brother is always watching. Every automated garage is monitored 24/7 by technicians who sit in a room with a wall of TV screens and a live feed. “We can fix 99.75% of all problems immediately over the internet,” says Perry Finkelman, CEO of Automotion Parking Systems, a Long Island-based company that installs automated systems. When a system is newly installed, service contracts also often include a human being on site to teach drivers how to navigate the system.

“It’s a little bit like when we had the first ATMs,” says Finkelman. “In the beginning, all banks had somebody there to explain and help the customers. Now anybody can use them.”

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