Parking garages undergo a makeover thanks to technology

One of the greatest thrills for South Florida city drivers these days is to find available parking, whether it’s in front of a specific destination or in a convenient garage.

That gift, though, is becoming fewer and farther between, which is why so many commercial and corporate locations provide valet services. Drivers and passengers get to walk a short distance, while valets run all over the city to park and retrieve automobiles.

A headache, yes, but it’s a way of life that many urban dwellers have come to begrudgingly accept. Parking is a pain – but parking as we’ve always known it is in the throes of an evolution that’s connected to technology.

The future of parking is now

Parking first became an issue in 1908, when Ford’s Model-T was introduced. Ten years later, the first multi-story parking garage was built at the La Salle Hotel in Chicago. Ever since American drivers in many urban areas have been driving around in circles to find an available space.

Changing attitudes toward cars, technology, start-ups, and competition are coming together to move the parking industry into the 21st century. For the first time, ideas once considered fantastical are becoming a reality.

The perfect parking storm

When it comes to car ownership, Millennials and Generation Z-ers have mixed feelings. Many workers in this age bracket tend to work from locations outside of a traditional office, and fewer of them own cars.

Rather than owning, they would much rather use public transportation or walk. At the same time, driverless cars and driving services such as Lyft and Uber are cutting into garage usage.

Nevertheless, car ownership overall is on the rise– particularly in South Florida, where development is surging, walkable downtown areas are still catching up to the times, and public transportation is sparse compared to other urban areas.

It was only a matter of time before driverless car technology would lead to driverless parking opportunities. As automakers continue to move forward with automated technologies, they are already testing smart garage capabilities in markets around the country, with cars dropping passengers off and then driving and communicating with a nearby garage.

Parking plusses and the connected garage

As with just about all things related to technology, the parking garage is moving toward a data-driven environment that is also sustainable:

With improved and more commonplace car and garage technologies, parking garage footprints will become smaller. Cars will be parked more efficiently. With driverless capabilities and stacking, parking spaces will be narrower.

As parking becomes more efficient, there will be less carbon emission. Through the use of embedded hardware in parking spaces, drivers will be alerted (either through apps or signage) of available spaces to curb driving in circles.

To see such a system in action, visit the parking garage at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Carbon emissions are further reduced as some garages move cars via automated platforms.

Because of driverless parking capability, there is enhanced security for vehicles. There will be no way for pedestrians or thieves to get near parked cars.

The parking garage evolution is not without setbacks

No one ever said that evolution was easy. Sometimes, there are setbacks and unforeseen issues.

Such is the case with BrickellHouse in Miami, where the promise of the city’s first fully-automated garage fell victim to the human glitch. There, developers and the technology failed to realize rush hour surge in car retrieval – resulting in residents reportedly waiting up to 45 minutes for their vehicles. The end result has been litigation and years of parking headaches.

At Morris Southeast Group, we believe it’s imperative for parking garages to continually evolve to meet the challenges and changes in our rapidly changing South Florida landscape. To step away from the future would be detrimental to residents, commuters, and tourists – all of whom make our cities come to life.

For a free consultation or to learn more about our property investment opportunities and/or other commercial real estate services, call Morris Southeast Group at 954.474.1776. You can also reach Ken Morris directly at 954.240.4400 or via email at