Bellevue Hospital Turns 68 Spaces Into 272, and in Only Five Months
When land is scarce and parking necessary, necessity is truly the mother of invention. In this case, as it is with so many locations in Manhattan and other downtown areas, the goal was to squeeze as many cars as possible in the small available space.
Parking lifts have been around for many years. Although the technology has improved, the theory is the same. Drive a car on the lift. Use hydraulics to lift the car. Put a second car under the first. You double the number of cars you can put on a surface lot and double your revenue.
The issue is also one of speed. These simple yet effective machines can be installed quickly, without footings or foundations, and with little effort. These lifts are not permanent fixtures and can be easily relocated.
All these possibilities went through the minds of management at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York City when they lost their north parking lot next to the hospital to redevelopment. They realized that the new building was taking convenient parking from more than 300 doctors and nurses, and there was no available parking elsewhere.
The smaller south parking lot had a capacity of about 100 cars with 36 double lifts, but it was filled to capacity.
The solution was to replace the double car stackers on the south lot with four rows of quadruple car stackers, two deep each side. This would turn it into a respectable 300-car lot on a very small area.
With the help and funding of the Economic Development Corp. of NYC, a decision was quickly reached. The equipment was ordered, designed, installed and functioning in less than five months – a fraction of the time it would have taken for a conventional garage and at a fraction of the cost. The complete package, installed, was less than $5,000 a space.
In addition, the hospital went “green” on this project, installing the first fully electric four-high car stackers in the U.S. This innovative equipment eliminates spillage or leakage from hydraulic fluid normally found in conventional car stackers. These machines – designed, manufactured and installed by Park Plus Inc. – are referred to as part of their “valet” range of equipment. The parker simply drops off the car, and the staff at the lot takes it from there. The cars are stacked in the system based on when the owner is due to return, with all-day parkers on the higher levels at the back and the short-term parkers given the front spots.
Raphael LaVerte, manager of the parking lot, told Parking Today that locating the cars is a bit of an art. “After a few days, you get a feel for when regular customers come and go. In this facility, most cars are from employees and we know exactly when they are returning. There are a few daily and some transient parkers whose cars may not even be placed on the lifts.”
The cars are safe and secure on the lifts, he said. When the car reaches its proper level, the platform carrying it is locked into place. The cars below it must be removed before high-tech laser beams allow the upper ones to be moved.
“These systems protect the cars from damage – no dings in doors as when cars are parked on surface lots,” LaVerte said. “Naturally, when parking on standard surface lots, we try to put them as close together as possible. There will be a ‘ding’ from time to time. It happens. But it can’t happen with these machines. Each car has its own slot, safe and secure.”
“There were some existing double car stackers on the site,” said Eric Webb, VP for Park Plus. “The hospital asked us to store them until a small parcel of land nearby became available and they could be put back into use. That’s the beauty of the Park Plus double car stackers: They can be used in a permanent installation or provide a short-term solution.”
“This is important in an area where there is little vacant land and a lot of expansion,” Webb said. “There just wasn’t the room for a conventional garage, and there wasn’t time to build it.”
The parking lifts come in various configurations. “We have a semi-automatic lift sliding system that stores nine vehicles, on the footprint of three cars, at a local Mercedes dealership,” Webb said. “This equipment allows the retrieval of vehicles stacked up to five cars high without removing any cars. In this case, each car is presented at a push of a button.”
For more information on the company, log on to www.parkplusinc.com.