VIPs and Movie Fans Share Spaces
It's not often that a new technology in a parking facility can satisfy the landlord, the business owner, high-profile daytime visitors, and a nightly surge of shoppers and movie patrons. But David Vaillant, President of Lincoln Center Parking, says his facility in Miami Beach, FL, has achieved just that.
A six-story, 300-space parking garage, Lincoln Center must reserve eight ground-floor spaces for daytime VIPs. The reason: It's stipulated in the lease. But to achieve cost-efficiency, the same spaces must be available evenings to regular customers.
Lincoln Center is in a flourishing retail neighborhood, at the intersection of the city's Lincoln Road and a state thoroughfare, Alton Road. Both carry high volumes of traffic. So demand for parking space is continual because of the diversity of nearby retail establishments and the presence of the Regal Cinema, a popular 18-screen movie theater.
Dual usage of the eight spaces has been achieved by the installation of remote-controlled space barriers, which are lowered and raised by a hand-held transmitter in the user's vehicle or controlled from a central location.
"I needed the more flexible system," Vaillant says. "The landlord wants guaranteed parking for the building manager, contractors and others who conduct business with the garage. But I want to regulate the use of the protected space. So visitors who may qualify pass by our ground-floor office, and we operate the barriers from there." The central office attendant acknowledges any driver who is entitled to a protected space and lowers one of the barriers.
Another unusual feature at Lincoln Center Parking is its elimination of the traditional manned exit booth. "We use a system that's popular in Europe," says Vaillant, a native of France. When a driver enters the parking facility, a dispensing machine issues a ticket indicating day, date and time -- an action that automatically opens a gate.
When a driver returns to the facility, he inserts his ticket into a pay-on-foot machine in the lobby, which indicates the amount owed. On payment, the now sensitized ticket will open the exit gate when put into a card reader next to it.
Vaillant says this method "frees one employee who would otherwise be manning a booth, and it lets all of the employees on duty function in a customer-service capacity."
The high-visibility barriers were installed in April 2005. "We used an outside contractor," he says, "but they're easy to bolt to the floor, and they don't require digging or wiring."
Units Are Self-Contained
Dori Teich, President of Designated Parking Corp., manufacturer of the barriers, says that "the Lincoln Center installation is among numerous uses for our product. You'll find them at office buildings, public facilities and residential buildings, where tenants are often willing to pay a parking fee premium for a barrier-protected space." Teich says the barriers are self-contained in a low-profile, sealed-aluminum housing, which is resistant to excessive force, vandalism or other abuse.
Vaillant says Lincoln Center Parking, which employs seven, and is open around the clock, is mid-range in terms of capacity. "A city-operated lot might accommodate 1,500 cars," he notes, "while some privately owned lots can accept only 50." He says that parking rates charged by his facility, which was purchased in 1998, are comparable to those charged by hotels and valet parking operations.
It would be difficult to lower his rates, Vaillant says ruefully, because the parking garage's location commands a high lease rate that is reflected in the charges for parking space.
Have there been any problems with the barriers? Vaillant laughs.
"No, not really," he says. "The only real difficulty we encounter is caused by low-slung sports cars like Ferraris. They're so close to the ground that they can cause cosmetic damage to the barriers. But Designated Parking is providing a solution," he adds.
Are there any problems you would consider typical of the parking business?
Vaillant laughs again. "Well, yes, there is one. To put it bluntly, it's customers who want to dispute the length of time they've parked or the amount they should be charged, even though the ticket spells these things out quite clearly. I've even had a few crash through the front gates.
"But I guess it goes with the territory," he adds. "I doubt if there's a lot or garage operator anyplace that hasn't been challenged by an irate customer."
The MySpot 2000 barriers are manufactured by Designated Parking, and the entrance and POF equipment by Designa. William Portington is head of Studio 21, a public relations agency. He can be reached at Studio21adv@nac.net.
Article Abstract from October, 2005