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We are already in the future: the robot will park your car in New York, but this is not a cheap pleasure


Nadezhda Verbitskaya

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Tucked under some of New York City's most luxurious apartment buildings is an exclusive world of futuristic parking spaces. There, high-end cars are parked by robotic parking systems. CNBC.

High-tech places are a rare treat in New York. And if you want your car to take one of those VIP seats, get ready to fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars. This service is available only to residents of houses where apartments will cost you several million dollars. If you want your car to be there too, you will need between $300 and $000 to take up precious space in a private garage.

CNBC has uncovered two buildings in Manhattan offering space for sale inside a so-called robotic garage.

The first of these is located at 22 East 121nd Street, near Gramercy Park in New York. 140 unit condominium designed Great brothers, offers 24 automated parking spaces. Laurie Alf, a Florida resident, purchased one of these rare parking spaces for $300. In addition, the lucky woman bought the most expensive apartment in the house - a five-bedroom duplex. She explained that the $000 million deal was a gift to her children, who are now spending more time in New York.

From now on, when Alf or her children want to park the family Porsche Cayenne, they pull up to the garage. A wave of a small RFID tag opens access to an underground car lair. People are not allowed in. Pressing the button animates an empty metal container and lowers it to the next level. The container slides along the rails to a powerful hoist that raises it to ground level. The Alphas can then neatly place their vehicle in it.

Before their car is picked up, a set of cameras scans the entrance to the system to make sure that the trunk and doors of the car are closed and that there are no objects or people left behind that could interfere with the automation. When the scanners say "everything is clear", the container with the car disappears into the floor, stopping briefly when descending into the basement to turn the car 180 degrees, after which it is placed in one of the empty places.

The system can lift and move two dozen vehicles across four rows and two levels.

Picking up a car is like making a choice in a vending machine. Residents swipe on their RFID tags and the system delivers their car in about 2 minutes 15 seconds. One of the benefits for users of this service is that they never have to back up to get out of the building.

“The robot turns the car around for you,” Lori Alf explained.

Pedro Fernandez is the local sales representative for Klaus Parking, which sold a German-made parking system to the building developer. He admitted that it was the most automated garage he had installed in Manhattan. The top-tier system typically costs between $50 and $000 per installed seat. Fernandez said developers are investing more than a million dollars in smart parking infrastructure. This is because it is very efficient at accommodating vehicles and maximizing space.

“There was no other way to park 24 cars,” Fernandez admitted of the garage under 121 East 22nd Street.

The self-parking system can open up more spaces per square meter, he says, because it doesn't require the ramps and lanes you see in most conventional garages.

“As crazy as it sounds, $300 for a parking space in a residential complex is considered a reasonable price in New York,” said Senada Adzem. Florida real estate broker Douglas Elliman represented Alf in her recent purchase.

Seats in the system that include an electric vehicle charging socket will cost $350. And whether it's electrified or not, there's a $000 per month charge for each parking space.

“The general lack of parking spaces in the city will only lead to an increase in prices,” Adzem is convinced. She believes the lack of supply can turn seemingly lavish spending into a source of income for owners, who will eventually be able to resell their space for a profit.

Across town, parking spaces are even more expensive in a building that once housed pop star Ariana Grande. Rock musician Sting and his wife, film producer Trudie Styler, currently live there.

Minimum parking fee at 28 West 520th Street is $450

The luxury residence includes a penthouse that is currently on the market for $16,5 million. And according to Corcoran's agent Julie Pham, a parking space in the building's garage can cost upwards of $595 per vehicle.

“I've never seen anything like this before,” Pham said of the unique convenience.

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Residents can use the app to link to a so-called guarded parking portal and remotely launch an automated search process. So the car will be ready when they are ready. Pham did not reveal the identities of either past or present clients, but said the automated parking was a major attraction for one prominent resident. The celebrity's reps approved the deal because the star could get in and out in complete privacy.

“They liked the idea that there was no need to communicate with the valet or escort. Besides, no one can enter right behind you,” she explained.

And during the pandemic, residents appreciated the fact that they could leave their car in storage and then pick it up without handing over the keys to the valet.

While automated parking isn't cheap, it doesn't even come close to being the most expensive in New York.

Miller Samuel is a real estate appraisal and consulting firm. In recent years, some developers have raised asking prices for a basic parking space to the $1 million mark, according to its president, Jonathan Miller. Still, it's unlikely that a 9-figure place has ever attracted a real buyer.

“I never found evidence of their actual sale,” he assured.

One of the most expensive parking spaces in the past year is located at 220 Central Park South. They sold a parking space for an impressive $750. It is linked to an apartment in the building that was sold for $000 million.

“It's really hard to track since most of the sales are condo sales,” Miller said.

And it's even harder to keep track of parking space sales in new automated systems. In many cases, the spots are actually licensed to buyers, according to brokers. They are not rented out and sold like most properties.

Miller remarked, "$300 to $000 is the best value for a new development."

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