Imagine the convenience of driving into your parking garage at night, and not having to loop around, and around, and around to get down to P6, because you have a parking elevator to take you down there instead!
Now imagine there are cars lined up around the block to use the elevator.
Or imagine the elevator doesn’t work.
Or imagine any number of other problems that can arise.
Is the “parking elevator” a gimmick, or the way of the future?
My colleague told me an amazing story the other day.
He was at 210 Simcoe Street – a new development that just gave occupancy this month, and was showing a client properties for lease (everything is for lease since the building isn’t registered yet, and owner/occupants can only “assign” their Agreements).
His client was looking to lease a unit, but also needed a parking space as he will drive to work every day.
The listing agent met my colleague and the would-be tenant at the property to show it to them, and after they saw the unit, they went down to the parking garage.
The parking garage itself can be accessed by the stairs, or the elevator, but how to get your car down there is another story entirely.
You see, a handful of condos in Toronto – or around the world, for that matter, are starting to eliminate the parking ramps that we all know and love, and install an elevator that takes you and your car down to the various parking levels.
This is, apparently, a great way to save space in the underground, as well as construction costs.
My colleague and his client asked the listing agent at 210 Simcoe Street if he could show them how the parking elevator worked, and he was happy to oblige.
Perhaps he just wanted them to smell the leather in his new Mercedes S-Class, so he encouraged them to pile in, and he started the engine, and approached the elevator door.
They pulled up to a massive steel curtain, with signage everywhere – “Weight Limit 10,000 Pounds,” and “Please Approach Door Slowly,” and “One Vehicle Per Lift,” and a bevy of other notes, and they put the car in park as the agent opened his window.
He pulled out his FOB, and waved it at the reader.
And then they waited.
The listing agent talked, in attempts to fill the silent void, but it was apparent that they were just sitting, and waiting, and something was amiss.
The lights flashed green, yellow, and red. Over, and over, and over.
But nothing happened.
The door didn’t open, and they continued to sit.
They waited a couple more minutes, and then the listing agent pressed a few buttons, tried to make a call to concierge, and repeatedly said, “Nothing to worry about here, folks,” which is what somebody always says when there is something to worry about.
The listing agent backed up his car, and pulled into the other parking elevator lane. That’s right – there’s TWO parking elevators, for, you know – 296 units…
But they sat in lane-two just as they sat in lane-one, and despite the lights flashing green multiple times, the door never went up.
My colleague sat and gritted his teeth, as he read signs such as “Please Do Not Roll Down Windows In Elevator,” and was just about to open his mouth to say something, as a voice came from the back seat:
His client – the would-be tenant, was sitting in the back seat, watching this whole debacle go down, and he finally had enough. He let loose with a tirade of questions and observations, rooted in disappointment with the building, and sheer and utter shock at the “system” put in place.
“What the hell is going on here?”
“Is this a regular occurrence?”
“Is there anybody here to fix this? Does the concierge have a magic wand?”
“There’s no parking ramps here! What happens if this thing goes down for a week? How do we get our cars out? Do we take the bus?”
“What if I needed to get out – like asap, to take a bleeding relative to the hospital?”
“What if there were ten other residents who needed to get out – to take bleeding relatives to the hospital?”
“What if we were IN the parking elevator, with the windows rolled up, and there was a fire? You can barely fit the car inside – you can’t open a goddam door! You’re stuck inside an iron coffin!”
“There are two cars in this entire parking garage. TWO! And yours is one of them! There’s nobody living in this building, and the elevator still isn’t working? What’s going to happen when this building is full?” (that was true – an entirely empty parking garage, save for two cars, since occupancy has only been given up to the 12th floor)
And after this epic tirade, the listing agent, from the cushy front seat of his shiny silver Mercedes, turned back and simply said, “This is the thing about 210 Simcoe Street that you have to know: patience is important.”
The guy lost it!
He got out of the car, and headed for the stairs, muttering the whole way.
My colleague couldn’t help but laugh, and of course, he called me as soon as he and his client parted ways, so he could tell me about this “epic fail.”
I tried my best to be impartial – with the blog title at the top asking if parking elevators were “innovative or the worst idea ever,” but as you can see from the post thus far, my opinions on the matter are far from hidden.
A lot of positive press has been given to these new-age parking elevators, but it’s all nonsense to me.
In THIS article in the Globe & Mail, a developer for a condominium on St. Clair Avenue suggests, “Eliminating ramps and reducing the use of lights, ventilation and energy will optimize space and efficiency of the garage.”
“Optimizing space” simply means “creating more available parking spaces to sell to people at anywhere from $35,000 – $50,000.”
Eliminating the “nuisance” of parking ramps, which are present in about 99.99% of parking garages in Toronto, only serves the developer’s best interest.
A parking garage elevator is a gimmick, plain and simple.
The only way it can be useful, logical, effective, and a better option than the traditional parking ramp, is if you’re a multi-millionaire who collects cars and wants them in the living room, like this guy:
As for downtown Toronto condos, I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
I’m not talking about the “what if” scenario’s either ie. what if the elevator breaks, or it’s too slow, or it’s down for an hour, etc.
I’m just talking about the logistical nightmare of having all the residents in the building get in, and out, of the underground parking during peak hours, each and every day.
There’s a condo in my neighbourhood being built as we speak, called “King Plus,” on the southeast corner of King & Sherbourne.
That’s not a huge intersection, but it gets a lot of traffic during rush hour as people looking to get to the Gardiner take Sherbourne rather than Jarvis.
So imagine at 5:30pm, on a weeknight, combining all the cars that are passing through during the normal course of a Toronto day, plus the cars that are using Sherbourne as an alternative to Jarvis, and then add in a hundred people who are lining up to make the turn into the alleyway between King & Front, off Sherbourne, so they can get into the parking elevator.
It’s a disaster waiting to happen.
What if there’s one car in the elevator, and one waiting behind it. Then another behind it. Then the car behind that one has to be on the street, and thus each successive car is lined up, on a city street, and will not get out of the way, for fear of losing his or her spot in line.
All these parking elevators are going to do is congest traffic in a city where we’re already choking.
Geez, why don’t we tear down the Gardiner Expressway while we’re at it…
Raise your hand if you had one of these as a kid:
I had one – the Fisher Price model, no doubt.
I can’t tell you how many times that yellow car elevator got stuck, and I had to wedge the car out with a stick from my “Tinker-Toys” or with one of He-Man’s swords…
But that was a toy.
What if the real thing gets stuck?
Time will tell.
But I would never tell a client to purchase at 210 Simcoe Street or at King Plus Condos, strictly for the parking situation.
It’s a risk/reward proposition, plain and simple. And parking spaces at 210 Simcoe Street cost $55,000, so it’s not like the risk/reward equation is in your favour…