‘A valet service without the valet’: Automated, vending-machine-style parking structure proposed for Dillon town core redevelopment


A novel parking structure is being proposed as part of a major redevelopment of Dillon’s town core.

As part of his proposed project, Developer Jake Porritt has pitched the AUTOParkit automated parking garage, a system where a driver deposits their car in a loading bay before it is whisked off on a rail and rack system to a compact storage area.

Porritt invited Shawn Adams, the vice president of sales at Dasher Lawless, which manufactures the AUTOParkit systems to the Dillon Town Council meeting on Tuesday, March 21. Porritt wanted him to help educate the town on the proposed system.

“This parking system — as it is new and I know there will be lots of questions about it — I wanted to make sure that to the extent there is a learning curve that we get ahead of it,” Porritt said.

The town council voted 5-2 last month to give Porritt’s company JGJP Dillon, LLC, the go-ahead to begin the process of establishing a funding model for the project he has called Triveni Square.

The project as proposed could cover 19 acres of residential and commercial land. Development could consist of 345 residential units — including workforce housing, market-rate housing and condominiums — and 351,000 square feet of commercial space.

In addition to a 600-car parking structure, Porritt has proposed a 2,500- to 3,500-seat indoor amphitheater and a hotel with conference space. He has said the exact scale of the project will be negotiated with the town.

Compared to a traditional parking garage, an AUTOParkit system can park twice as many vehicles in the same amount of volume, according to Adams. 

“That’s not hype, or wishful thinking, or all the stars have to align,” he said. “That’s a pretty good rule of thumb.”

An example of vehicles parked in an AUTOParkit structure.
AUTOParkit/Courtesy photo

When a driver wishes to park their car, Adams said, they pull up to an AUTOParkit loading bay and position their car in the bay according to directions displayed on a monitor. Once the car is positioned, the driver exits and the car is carried away on a rail system to its parking space, which he said is also more secure than a typical parking garage.

“It’s a valet service without the valet,” Adams said. “No one rummages through your car. You literally could keep the window down, your wallet on the front seat with money hanging out and your car keys. The car is put in an unoccupied space.”

When the driver wants their vehicle back, they can use an app on their phone to have the system retrieve their car — which Adams said takes an average of about three minutes. Only the person with the proper credentials, either a key fob, a ticket or a phone app, can retrieve the vehicle from the bay, he said.

AUTOParkit systems are safer than traditional parking garages, Adams said, because there are no dark corners or places where people can hide. Moreover, because the vehicle is turned off as soon as it is loaded into the bay, the systems reduce greenhouse gas emissions as compared to traditional parking garages, he said. 

The high cost of concrete in recent years has made the full-steel structure of AUTOParkit systems “extremely competitive,” Adams said, adding that the systems are not robotic but rather operate on electric motors.

In response to a question from Mayor Carolyn Skowyra, Adams said the systems are designed to work in cold weather conditions. The systems can also be designed for other types of storage, including boats, he said, noting that such a system could be beneficial for the marina.

“It’s much more than cars,” Adams said. “It’s anything you want it to be so long as it fits the vehicle envelope… It could be a set of bikes. It could be a container. It could be kayaks. It could be canoes. It could be boats.”

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