“Parking Elevator”: Innovative, Or Worst Idea Ever?

ParkingElevator

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?

ParkingElevator

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.

They waited.

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:

“Epic…….f*cking……FAIL!”

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.”

That’s silly.

“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:

ParkingGarageToy

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…

19 Comments

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  1. Wolf says:

    Re; “What if I have to drive a bleeding reletive to the hospital?”…isn”t that what 911 and ambulances are for? (you melodramatic douche-bag) Take some valium and go back to the TCHC where you belong. Nobody at 210 Simcoe wants to see your rusted out 1984 Hyundai Pony in the car elevator anyway…

  2. New 210 Resident says:

    I moved into a building with vehicle elevators back in June and they not once have ever given me an issue. The issues are reliant on the company that produces them, if they are insubordinate and don’t understand how to repair them then there will be issues.

  3. neighbor Across the Street says:

    What a great article. I live across the street from the terrible harbinger of anxiety. You did not mention the truly obnoxious and useless alarm that is regulated by out Developer owned Provincial Ministry. It echoes throughout the neighborhood 24/7, is of no use to pedestrians and motorists as the elevator doors sits over twenty feet (almost seven meters) from the street.

  4. Jaunty The Conqueror says:

    Looking at Googlemaps, it would appear the plot of land this apparent 210 Simcoe was built on is very narrow and would not be able to support the width of a car ramp. Toronto at this point is overpopulated and crowded, so we have to build up. Sometimes corporate greed will snag whatever they can get their hands on and build a place as cheaply as possible. These things happen. How about we fix the entire system instead of repairing the broken pieces over and over?

  5. 210 Simcoe Tenant says:

    To whoever wrote this article,
    Good job!!!! You sure no how to predict the future!! Since moving into this horrible apartment building I have gotten stuck in the elevator more times than I can count on both hands. The elevators break down daily and residents are stuck having to park on the street or not able to get their cars out for work. This concept has proven to be a major failure time and time again. For over $200 a month in parking something needs to be done about this. Lets write another article because people are still moving in and they are not warned about this major liability and concern that is awaiting them. Im going to be suing the building soon for damages (i ended up in an ambulance after getting stuck in it once). Call me if you want to talk I would love to get the word out 416-951-6066

  6. Brad L. says:

    Theatre Park also has this and it raised alarm bells for me when I heard about it during my condo hunt. Seriously… I can only imagine a long queue on the street during rush-hour if one of the elevators break down. Or what happens if both of the elevators break down? Your car is either trapped underground if you were trying to leave, or you’re now wandering the streets for a parking spot (for which you’re footing the bill) if you were trying to get home. And how does this work with tow trucks? For instance, what if somebody parked in your spot? I’m assuming that a tow truck can’t fit in the elevator while towing another car so it’s going to be a complicated process to get that bozo out of there…

    Honestly, who can actually answer these question!? I legitimately would like to know the answers before I consider these things an absolute deal-breaker.

    1. 210 Simcoe Tenant says:

      Good job!!!! You sure no how to predict the future!! Since moving into this horrible apartment building I have gotten stuck in the elevator more times than I can count on both hands. The elevators break down daily and residents are stuck having to park on the street or not able to get their cars out for work. This concept has proven to be a major failure time and time again. For over $200 a month in parking something needs to be done about this. Lets write another article because people are still moving in and they are not warned about this major liability and concern that is awaiting them. Im going to be suing the building soon for damages (i ended up in an ambulance after getting stuck in it once). Call me if you want to talk I would love to get the word out 416-951-6066

  7. condodweller says:

    That is insane! I read a story about this when they were planning this and I thought even if reliability was not an issue, how on earth do you move enough cars fast enough for it to not be a total pain during rush hour. I don’t know if the picture above is the Simcoe building but it has three elevators which I think would be a minimum to allow for breakdowns and still have two others to use.

    In terms of safety it wouldn’t bother me as the passenger elevators we use today are essentially steel coffins we just got used to them and don’t think about it unless you have a phobia. I don’t think it makes any difference whether or not you have a car in the elevator with you or not.

    Aside from the logistical issues my biggest concern would be maintenance and hydro costs. To move 10,000 lbs up and down must require a lot of juice and high wear items.

    I think for something like this to work it would have to be fully automated like those European parking silos where you drive in the “elevator”, get out and leave while your car is whisked away for you. With today’s smartphones and apps, you could request your car and go down to meet it as it is brought up for you kind of like vallet parking. This way you don’t care how long the “filing” takes because you are not part of the process. Of course you still have the logistical issue of volume but at least you can get in the queue and not have to sit in your car while you wait.

    I’d be curious as to how much of a discount units in these buildings are going to sell for in resale.
    I wouldn’t even think to buy one until at least a few years’ worth of established service record and maintenance cost track record.

    I agree that these are designed to maximize the builder’s profit and have 0 consideration for the owners. I used to work in a building with a small footprint where the parking spots were on the ramp. It was a spiral ramp with radial parking spots along the way. I seriously doubt a parking elevator would have allowed for more parking spaces.

    1. 210 Simcoe Tenant says:

      Good job!!!! You sure no how to predict the future!! Since moving into this horrible apartment building I have gotten stuck in the car elevator more times than I can count on both hands. The elevators break down daily and residents are stuck having to park on the street or not able to get their cars out for work. This concept has proven to be a major failure time and time again. For over $200 a month in parking something needs to be done about this. Lets write another article because people are still moving in and they are not warned about this major liability and concern that is awaiting them. Im going to be suing the building soon for damages (i ended up in an ambulance after getting stuck in it once). Call me if you want to talk I would love to get the word out 416-951-6066

  8. Kyle says:

    They should have the elevator take the cars up to be parked on the roof, instead of down in the basement, and then when the elevator breaks down they could roll out a big orange Hot Wheels type slide (complete with a loop-to-loop) down the side of the building for the cars to get out.

    1. AndrewB says:

      Haha I had a good laugh reading this.

  9. Clifford says:

    Non-starter. Did that building really need a parking elevator? The site is big enough to accommodate a ramp. Builder tried to save a few bucks there. It’s a mid market building. I think units will be harder to sell for that reason.

    1. AndrewB says:

      I’m having a hard time understanding who thought this was a good idea. The parking garage DOOR in my building breaks often enough needing repair. A massive elevator for a car would be even worse. This building is going to have a terrible time selling units.

    2. 210 Simcoe Tenant says:

      Good job!!!! You sure no how to predict the future!! Since moving into this horrible apartment building I have gotten stuck in the elevator more times than I can count on both hands. The elevators break down daily and residents are stuck having to park on the street or not able to get their cars out for work. This concept has proven to be a major failure time and time again. For over $200 a month in parking something needs to be done about this. Lets write another article because people are still moving in and they are not warned about this major liability and concern that is awaiting them. Im going to be suing the building soon for damages (i ended up in an ambulance after getting stuck in it once). Call me if you want to talk I would love to get the word out 416-951-6066

  10. Chroscklh says:

    This 210 Simcoe St scenario is banana. I have friend live 12-unit hard loft in Vancouver with elevator to parking – even with 12 unit, is sometime must wait. And YES, 1-2 x year, elevator broke, is shut for maintain, no get car that day. But they use to it, no real mind – because it 12 unit. Only sometime have wait.

  11. moonbeam! says:

    Important to have an agent who warns would-be buyers about a problem like this – instead of putting a fake & positive spin on it to make the deal….

    1. jeff316 says:

      Agreed. Although the agent was likely joking, the only thing less desirable than a condo with elevator parking is an agent trying to spin such an inconvenient and costly amenity.

  12. AndrewB says:

    Maintenance nightmare.

  13. Thom says:

    “Patience is important.”

    LMAO. You can’t make this stuff up.

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