Coming to an Alley Near You: The Robot Garage

by Lark Turner

Coming to an Alley Near You: The Robot Garage: Figure 1
A drawing of a Klaus multiparking system.

The ‘robot garages’ of yesteryear may be turning up in your alley one of these days.

A developer building a new four-unit condo project in Columbia Heights had plans to install a four-car version of the so-called ‘robot garage’ — a mechanical parking system that allows for fewer square-footage-eating ramps and thus, more parking spaces. But neighbors opposed the plan and the building at 3112 13th Street NW (map), which under zoning only requires two parking spaces, has foregone the pricey parking device in favor of a two-car concrete parking pad.

DC has a large mechanized parking structure at the Camden Grand Parc apartments, which boasts “fully-automated” parking among its amenities. However, the many smaller projects going up around the city tend to have surface parking. The 13th Street project would have been a much smaller garage, fitting two cars side-by-side on two levels. Developer The Fenton Group would have then been able to offer a parking spot to each of the new owners in the car-crowded neighborhood.

But to do that, they needed to apply for a parking variance from the Board of Zoning Adjustment because DC doesn’t count mechanical parking as “real” parking spots. To the city, a mechanical parking garage with four spaces counts as zero spaces, and a two-space parking pad for a four-unit condo fulfills zoning regulations just fine, according to The Fenton Group’s Christine Adey.

When the developer presented the idea to ANC 1A, neighbors were concerned about the parking structure’s noise and appearance, and said they would oppose it at a zoning board meeting.

“We were really hoping that the neighborhood would embrace it,” Adey said. “We also understand that when you’re kind of leading the way, it can be difficult for people to conceptualize what you’re trying to do and what it will look like.”

The Fenton Group would’ve used a company called Klaus to make the structure. Here’s a video of what a Klaus multiparking system can look like, though this version is much more complex than the simple structure proposed in Columbia Heights:

See other articles related to: robot parking garage, robot parking, mechanical garage

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/coming_to_an_alley_near_you_the_robot_garage/8202


  1. MJ said at 10:56 pm on Wednesday March 5, 2014:
    In 2008 I bought a unit at a condo in MD with a parking lift. The developer wanted $15K for the lift or $30K for a second parking spot, so the lift was a good option. The lifts are great and last several decades. There's a local company called Harding Steel that sells them. Personally, I am pro parking. A lot of new DC developments purposely omit having parking, which I think is crazy. And I can directly finger point at the whole nonsense of being LEED for the blame. It takes having fewer parking spots to reach certain LEED levels in new developments...sigh I think in the future, we'll regret not offering parking in new multi-unit developments. Just like today we regret the look of strip malls with giant parking lots fronting main roads.
  1. Colin said at 12:10 am on Thursday March 6, 2014:
    What does it mean to be "pro-parking"? Personally I am neither pro nor anti-parking. I think if people want parking they should pay for it, and if they don't want parking they should be allowed to go without. To each their own.
  1. MJ said at 3:11 pm on Thursday March 6, 2014:
    That's the whole point I'm trying to make, Colin. If new developments don't offer any parking at all, which seems to be the new trend to be "green," then buyers don't get the choice of paying for parking or not. Developers are just making parking on side streets impossible in some neighborhoods.
  1. Colin said at 4:51 pm on Thursday March 6, 2014:
    "then buyers don’t get the choice of paying for parking or not." I have found that you can usually rent a parking space from someone if you look on Craigslist classifieds. Furthemore, it is difficult to believe that if buyers really want parking and are willing to pay for it that developers won't provide it -- why would they leave money on the table? As for side streets being impossible to park on, this is the fault of the government for not setting the price of parking permits high enough.

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