The Lift at Juniper Street

I spent this spring-like afternoon wandering the streets of Philadelphia. Although I grew up in the Philly suburbs, I don’t know the city particularly well. Living in New York City for the past 3 years and studying real estate has given me an appreciation for urban design so aimlessly meandering through city streets has become a new favorite activity.

You never know what you’re going to stumble upon; a cool urban park, new ground-up development, historical rehab, or a unique streetscape.

This afternoon, just southeast of City Hall, I noticed an interesting automated parking garage concept developed by Brandywine Realty Trust. This project in particular was unlike anything I’ve seen. The façade of the building resembled a high-end condo development and featured the garages’ logo:

Branding is prevalent in all real estate asset classes, but I’ve never seen a branded parking garage. In fact, I couldn’t name a single parking garage in NYC (only parking garage operators).

‘The Lift is a completely automatic parking system. Drivers pull in, swipe their credit card and go. The Lift’s computerized system transports the car to one of the 220 spaces. While that alone is pretty cool, there are a number of benefits to the system; consumers avoid walking through dangerous poorly lit garages, reduces the risk of dings and scratches, open 24 hours a day and eco-friendly. Check out The Lift’s website which has a cool video tour and explanation of the advantages.

While I love the concept, I’m not sold on it as a business. Do people go out of their way to use this lot if there is a closer option? Perhaps if you own a luxury car that you’re worried about, but that’s a very small percentage of drivers.

Although the economics may not totally make sense, I love the idea of branding parking lots to help make them memorable. When searching for a lot, I turn to my iPhone to see what’s nearby. Imagine a parking lot in your neighborhood where each spot was named after a philly sports legend. That’d stand out to you and when a friend was in town looking for a spot, wouldn’t the ‘Philly Hall of Fame’ lot be the first thing you think of?