Incorporating Mixed-Use Development into Today’s Parking Options
By Eric Scherden, Regional Sales and Business Development Manager, Metromont LLC
Whether traveling to the beach, grocery store, theme park, or any heavily populated destination, everyone has felt the frustration of circling a parking lot. With demand competing for land, gone are yesterday’s big blacktop lots. Today they’re replaced with more land-efficient, eco-friendly, mixed-use developments that satisfy the need to live, work, play … and park, all in the same spot.
Regional sales and business development manager Eric Scherden knows first-hand the demand for sustainable, durable, and versatile parking structures. While helping develop the Florida market, his portfolio of projects includes the Florida Marlins’ Stadium, numerous multi-family and student housing communities across the Tampa and St. Petersburg area, and parking garages that incorporate amenity levels with pools, outdoor living spaces, and workout areas.
Though Metromont provides precast concrete products for a variety of market segments, including data centers and modular buildings, Scherden estimates 70% of their work in Florida involves designing, producing, and building parking structures.
As development soars in Florida, available space decreases, causing a real need for exceptional and safe multi-family construction methods on tighter construction sites. Precast concrete parking structures are manufactured offsite in a controlled environment and shipped to the job site for just-in-time construction, providing the perfect solution for tight urban job sites that can’t accommodate the crews and equipment required by traditional building materials such as steel, cast-in-place, or tilt.
Making use of land options while optimizing structure functionality is Metromont’s expertise. “Urban development often finds itself in tight sites,” explains Scherden. “Owners and developers are looking for multi-use development options to include shopping plazas and grocery stores below parking decks and top-level amenities above them. Today’s designs require us to build structures strong enough to build upward instead of outward.”
Precast concrete parking structures offer higher weight load capacities than many traditional construction methods, which means more flexibility and versatility of design options for owners, while still being efficient with their building space.
The growing student housing demand is one place precast becomes invaluable. As universities address the more sophisticated needs of their students, today’s campus parking structures must serve as more than a place for students to park their vehicles. Amenity-level parking structures have become popular, allowing universities to efficiently use space while providing amenities such as fitness areas, outdoor lounges, and pools to attract student residents.
Design aesthetics for these mixed-use developments are certainly a top priority as well. Structural components with architectural finishes such as colored concrete, formliners, and exterior wall accents have become quite popular. These elements give each building its own unique visual appeal and provide business owners an aesthetic advantage over their competition.
Precast concrete construction also appeals to project managers wanting to make the best use of timelines. The offsite manufacturing of products at Metromont’s facilities allows structures to be erected much faster than traditional construction methods. “I’m proud of the high-quality work produced by our team,” says Scherden. “With so many competitors in the marketplace, Metromont’s edge to design, produce, and erect quality total precast structures continues to make us a leader in the industry.”
Whereas Scherden has enjoyed a variety of projects, the Pompano Beach parking garage sticks out as one of his favorites. “Ultimately the structure was completed with a really cool look to the exterior and incorporated a lot of very neat design aspects. Completing the project felt like a great accomplishment.”
Because the parking deck is next to the ocean, they encountered a few unique requirements. A parking structure at the beach means accounting for surfers, so higher ceilings were designed to accommodate surfboards. To combat the corrosive elements of the sea, Metromont used a concrete mix design meant to withstand the elements. Protection of wildlife was a primary concern for the company, so lighting design to protect the sea turtles was incorporated. When completed, Metromont designed a structure that withstands hurricane-force winds and still has as little impact on the environment as possible.
Today’s parking structures are no longer the zigzag mazes of our past, and the Pompano Beach garage is one example of the vast opportunities available to designers. Scherden offers this advice to those trying to secure their business. “Be the person potential clients look to rely on. Be willing to help them by making recommendations and serving as a sounding board for their ideas.”
Though seemingly innocuous structures in our environmental landscape, the versatility of precast parking structure design plays an important role in building sustainable, durable, and versatile structures for the needs of today’s communities and for the generations of tomorrow.
Eric Scherden has 25+ years of experience in commercial construction with an emphasis on total precast concrete structures and architectural precast cladding. His industry experience encompasses drafting, engineering, estimating, project management, sales, marketing, and management with projects ranging in value from $250,000 up to $30 million. As a Business Development and Sales Manager with Metromont, he is responsible for developing and identifying new precast opportunities, building relationships with current and potential clients, educating design professionals on the benefits of total precast solutions, and growing Metromont’s market share and revenue through bid proposals and negotiating scopes of work.