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Planned Obsolescence for Denver Parking
In a forward-thinking move to anticipate some of the radical changes that could be coming from autonomous vehicles, Denver developers are building parking that can be converted into housing or retail. Their thinking, according to a story in the Denver Post by Emilie Rusch, is that as people switch to using autonomous vehicle services to drive them around, the need for personal vehicles will decrease dramatically and cities will be overstocked with parking.
Far from seeing this as the dreams of some far-fetched future, the development group, Denizen, has already started building for this eventuality. "The more than 700 above-ground parking spaces in the project’s first phase have been designed so they can be renovated into residential, office or retail space as future demand warrants," Rusch reports.
Thomas Fisher, Director of the Metropolitan Design Center at the University of Minnesota, hypothesizes that, "one shared autonomous vehicle, operating like today’s taxi or car-sharing services but without a human driver, could take as many as 11 conventional vehicles off the road." This vision of the future is more than academic in Denver; parking must be ready to be upgraded or, in some situations, it will be in violation of city code. "In Denver, the ground floor of stand-alone parking garages downtown are required to be suitable for conversion to an active, nonparking use in the future" according to City Planning and Development Supervisor Chris Gleissner.