New Urban News

Goodbye, Suburban Parking Lots. Hello, garages.

Supermarkets are increasingly becoming equipped with parking garages. Could “automated parking” be in the future?

When a Whole Foods store opened in North Bethesda, Maryland, recently, shoppers were surprised to find something out of the ordinary: underground parking.

“Those accustomed to pulling into a vast parking lot and walking directly into the former Whole Foods six miles up Rockville Pike suddenly had to navigate a cavernous two-level garage before boarding elevators or escalators to reach the store entrance,” The Washington Post reported.

“For me, parking in a garage for grocery parking is weird,” a 40-year-old woman told a reporter as she waited for an elevator. “It’s kind of not natural.”

Of course, what’s unnatural one day can become utterly routine as time goes on. And that’s what’s happening in greater Washington— a region at the forefront of the shift toward more urban living styles.

Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute knows of 14 grocery stores in the Washington area that have parking garages. “You’ll see a lot more of that going forward,” McMahon said. “Will Americans adapt? Absolutely.”

Some of the garages are beneath urban stores — as can be seen in a shared garage serving the Safeway store in the City Vista complex at L and 5th Streets, NW, part of a rapidly redeveloping