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Hate Valet? Not to Worry; Help Is at Hand

But imagine a different world, one free of such proletarian strivers. You pull into your high-end condo building, drive your car onto a steel pallet and shut off the engine. The glass door of the oversized elevator closes and you and your car are whisked upward at 650 feet per minute. The elevator stops on the floor of your apartment and deposits your car in your parking space. You get out and walk a few steps into your home. As an added bonus, a glass wall separates your private garage from your living room, so you can stare at your fine automobile from your couch, as if it were in a showroom.
That reality doesn’t quite exist yet in the United States.
But a Miami developer, Gil Dezer, has planned such a system for the Porsche Design Tower Miami, a luxury condo complex in Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. The development, which has already sold over half of its 132 units, is expected to be ready in early 2016. In the meantime, a smattering of residential buildings in New York, Miami and Los Angeles boast fully — and semi — automated parking systems that are time savers for residents, and space savers for developers.
To me it seems like the ultimate amenity for the car-obsessed. Parking attendants, however well-meaning, are human, and a parking garage can be a house of horrors, especially in a place like Manhattan, where every inch counts. And for celebrities and billionaires trying to keep their activities as secret as possible, who’s to say whether the friendly valet isn’t a tipster for a gossip blog?
“We have some celebrities who bought specifically because they don’t have to see any valets or security when they come into the building,” Mr. Dezer said. “They don’t need to sign autographs, they don’t need to take pictures.”
In New York only one building, 200 11th Avenue, where Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban reportedly own an apartment, has created a parking system that lets residents ascend with their cars to their apartments. And it’s not even fully automated. In fact it seemed fraught with peril at first glance. Residents drive into the garage and onto a car elevator, shut off the engine, and then, once the elevator has risen to their floor, have to back their car themselves into the private space next to their unit.
It sounded to me like a recipe for scratch city, especially with my poor driving instincts. But Leonard Steinberg, a broker with Douglas Elliman who lives in the building, designed by Annabelle Selldorf, and who worked on its development, said that residents had encountered few problems with the system since the building opened in 2010. He says the elevator does not operate until the car is shut off. When the resident arrives with the car at the apartment, a sensor automatically turns on the lights and an exhaust fan in the garage.
“The only area where you have to have a little bit of skill is backing up in your garage; beyond that it is pretty basic stuff,” said Mr. Steinberg, who acknowledged that he is the only resident who doesn’t have one of the private garages. “The people that live in the building and use this system are really loving it.”

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