Monday morning, a ray of sunlight shined upon the 324-car automated parking garage at 916 Garden St. as Hoboken Parking Authority (HPA) officials started phasing in cars to the much-talked about and gossiped-about facility.
According to Gerhard Haag, the founder of Robotic Parking, the Florida-based company hired to install the automated features of the garage, by Wednesday night about 20 Hoboken car-owners were using the facility.
"We have been waiting for this day for a very long time, and are happy that we are now able to park the public's cars," said Haag Wednesday. Thursday Robotic allowed the Hoboken Reporter into the garage to take pictures of the machine's workings from the inside. Because this was such a controversial project, the threat of litigation was always looming over it. The HPA had not allowed anyone from the media into the facility until Thursday.
According to Haag, it is going to take approximately six weeks to phase in the full compliment of 324 cars.
HPA Chairman Frank Turso said Wednesday that the Parking Authority is currently contacting people from the garage's wait list. He added that those residents who want to put their names on the wait list can sign up at the HPA's office in City Hall.
The cars that are currently using that garage were taken off the HPA's wait list that was collected over two years ago. The order of the list was selected through a lottery.
According the Turso, all the cars' owners participating in the phase-in will receive two-months of free parking in the garage. The HPA has not decided on what the monthly charge for the garage will eventually be, but Turso estimated that it will be somewhere between $200 and $300 per month. The garage will be for monthly parking only. Daily and weekly options will not be available.
Turso also said that the building has been granted a temporary Certificate of Occupancy (CO). He said that the official CO will be issued as soon as the HPA fixes several minor items, such installing a railing on the roof and reducing the noise level on one power generator. The HPA has 90 days to correct those and several other items.
"There're no really big problems," said Turso. "And those corrections that do need to be made won't have any effect on the way the garage operates."
He added that after years of delay, he is happy to see members of the public using the garage.
"I am glad that this project has finally come to fruition," he said. "I'm very relieved and excited."
The phasing in of cars is a major milestone for the long-delayed garage. Political factions, agencies, and contractors have blamed each other for three years' worth of delays in the garage.
During construction, a battle ensued that caused much finger pointing, and eventually, work had to stop. One of the project's contractors accused another of not being able to install the building's automated system properly. The other contractor returned the volley by saying the first one had installed the building's steel incorrectly. To this day, each of the many parties involved in the controversy has a different idea of who is to blame.
The city's mayor has declined to place blame until a police investigation is completed to see if anything criminal occurred to delay the garage.
The completion of the garage is important to a public tired of cruising the streets looking for that rare parking spot. It is also important for Robotic, as this will be their first completed garage in the United States.