Hidden deep beneath some of New York City’s most luxurious apartment buildings is an exclusive world of futuristic parking lots where high-end vehicles are parked and retrieved by robotic parking systems.
The high-tech spots are a rare amenity in the Big Apple, and if you want your car to occupy one of these VIP spaces, you’ll need to be prepared to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The spots are only accessible to residents of buildings where the apartments cost you several million dollars, and if you want your car to live there too, you’ll need between $300,000 and $595,000 more to score some precious space in the private garage.
TUSEN found two buildings in Manhattan offering spots for sale in a so-called robo parking garage.
The first is located at 121 East 22nd Street near Gramercy Park in NYC, where a 140-unit apartment building has been developed by Toll Brothers offers 24 automated parking spaces.
Perched above the 22nd St condo’s underground garage is the wraparound terrace of a 5-bedroom duplex condo that recently sold with a $300,000 parking spot for $9.45 million.
Earlier this month, Lori Alf, a full-time Florida resident, bought one of the rare parking spaces for $300,000 when she purchased the building’s most expensive unit: a nearly 3,800-square-foot 5-bedroom duplex.
She told TUSEN that the package deal, which totaled $9.45 million, was a gift to her children who are now spending more time in New York.
The sun-filled living space in Lori Alf’s penthouse at 121 E 22nd St.
Toll Brothers City Life
When Alf or her kids want to park the family’s Porsche Cayenne in the apartment’s garage, they stop at a kiosk where the wave of a small radio frequency ID tag unlocks access to an underground car cave where no humans are allowed.
Pressing a button on the kiosk brings life to an empty metal pallet one level below. It slides down a track on a powerful elevator that sends the empty pallet to the ground to meet the Alfs, who can then carefully place their car on top.
As a vehicle enters the automated system, a motion sign delivers messages to the driver to ensure the vehicle is positioned correctly so that the parking process can begin.
Before their wheels are wiped off, a set of cameras scans the system’s entrance to confirm that the car’s trunk and doors are all closed – and that no objects or people have been left behind that could interfere with the automation.
When the scanners deliver it “all safe”, the pallet, with the car on it, disappears into the floor and pauses briefly as it descends to the basement to rotate the vehicle 180 degrees before placing it in one of the empty spaces.
The system can lift and shake two dozen cars across four rows and two levels.
A car parked on the lower level of the automated parking garage at 121 E 22nd St, where prices start at $300,000 per spot.
Picking up the car is a lot like making a choice from a giant vending machine. Residents swipe their RFID tags one more time and the system delivers their cars in about 2 minutes and 15 seconds.
One of the benefits for Alf: she never has to put the car in reverse to leave the building.
“The car is turned for you by the robot,” she told TUSEN. “Who wouldn’t live for a robot to put you on the right track in NYC?”
Pedro Fernandez, a local representative for Klaus Parking, the company that sold the German-made parking system to the building’s developer, told TUSEN it’s the most automated garage he’s ever installed in Manhattan.
The company’s top-of-the-line system typically costs between $50,000 and $70,000 per spot installed. Fernandez said developers are investing more than a million dollars in the intelligent parking infrastructure because it is super efficient at controlling vehicles and maximizing space.
The view inside the robo-parking machine at 121 E 22nd St reveals a system of pallets and hydraulic lifts that maneuver cars around a two-level underground parking garage.
“There was no other way to park 24 cars,” Fernandez said of the garage under 121 East 22nd Street.
The self-parking system can free up more spaces per square foot because it doesn’t require the driveways and lanes you see in most conventional garages, he said.
“As crazy as it may sound, $300,000 for a residential parking spot is considered a reasonable price in New York City,” said Senada Adzem, a Florida-based real estate agent with Douglas Elliman, whose team represented Alf at her recent purchase.
Adzem told TUSEN that spots in the system with an electric vehicle charging plug bring in $350,000. And whether it’s electrified or not, each parking space costs $150 a month in maintenance costs.
“The overall lack of parking in the city, an ongoing problem with no end in sight, will only escalate such prices,” Adzem said.
She believes a shortage of supply can turn the seemingly outrageous cost into a moneymaker for owners, who can eventually resell their place for a profit.
A car in the automated parking garage at 520 West 28th, where spots start at $450,000.
Martien Mulder & Related
Across town, parking is even more expensive in a building that was once home to pop star Ariana Grande and now houses rock musician Sting and his film producer wife Trudie Styler.
The price to park at 520 West 28th Street starts at $450,000.
The $16.5 million penthouse at 520 W 28th St unfolds over the 15th and 16th floors, with a 2,040 sq ft terrace that wraps around the building’s curvaceous glass facade.
Colin Miller / Related
The luxury residence, designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid and developed by The Related Companies, includes a 4,500-square-foot penthouse currently on the market for $16.5 million. And according to realtor Julie Pham of Corcoran, a parking space in the building’s garage can cost more than $595,000 per vehicle.
“I had never seen anything like it,” Pham said of the unique facility.
Residents can interact with the so-called “secure parking portal” via an app and remotely initiate the automated collection process so that the car is ready when they want it.
The $16.5 million penthouse offering includes ten rooms and nearly 4,500 sq ft of indoor living space, the asking price does not include parking.
Colin Miller / Related
While Pham wouldn’t reveal the identities of past or current customers, she did tell TUSEN that the automatic parking had great appeal for a celebrity resident, who had a security team search the parking lot before moving in.
The unnamed celebrity’s representatives agreed to the deal in part because the star could enter and exit the garage in total privacy, Pham said.
“They liked the idea that you didn’t have to address a servant or attendant, or that no one could come in right behind you,” she said.
And during the pandemic, the broker said, residents who wanted to minimize their exposure to Covid-19 loved being able to drop off and pick up their vehicle without handing over their keys to a valet.
While the automated spots are pricey, they’re not even close to NYC’s most expensive.
According to Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, a firm that specializes in real estate appraisals and consulting, some apartment developers have pushed their asking price for a plain concrete-and-yellow-stripe parking lot to $1 million in recent years. . Still, he said, a place with a 9-figure asking price is unlikely to have ever enticed a real buyer.
“I never found evidence of their actual closures,” he told TUSEN.
Miller, who analyzed public records at the request of TUSEN, said one of the most expensive parking lots sold in the city last year was at 220 Central Park South, where a parking spot fetched an impressive $750,000. Miller said, based on public records, it appears to be related to an apartment in the building that traded for $16 million.
“It’s really hard to track as most of the sales are embedded in unit sales,” Miller told TUSEN.
And it’s even more difficult to keep track of spot sales in the newer automated systems, because in many cases the spots are actually licensed to buyers, not deeded and sold like most real estate, according to brokers.
Miller said his best estimate for the going rate of a single NYC parking lot: “I think $300,000 to $400,000 is the sweet spot for new development.”