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Watch Chinatown's New Robot Parking Garage in Action

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The new, 60-unit Lotus Garden apartments are set on a steep hill in Chinatown, which provided a parking garage challenge for developer Affirmed Housing Group--the low-income developer couldn't build completely underground, so they ended up adding a Carmatrix, a semi-automated parking garage that parks more cars in less space. Drivers cruise into a stall, punch a number or swipe a card, exit the car, and the vehicle is moved to an open space above, below, or adjacent to the stall. When you need to grab your car, you punch in the parking spot in a keypad and the vehicle is retrieved (a video demonstration below shows a slowish vehicle return, but a Carmatrix official says it won't take longer than three minutes at most--often quicker than trudging through a multi-level garage).

The Carmatrix penciled out to $17,000 per stall, not much more or less than a typical parking spot in an apartment building. The savings is in space, which for this city of hideous parking podiums and subterranean garages that tickle China, seems significant (WeHo already has plans to build one and there's one in Santa Monica). City officials are apparently not too well-versed in these new-fangled garages and approvals took forever, but less technologically-challenged cities like Portland and New York are snapping them up.

Jump to 3:45 for the good stuff:

· For Parking, Chinatown Building Enters the Matrix [DN]