A three-story underground parking garage in Taoyuan County’s Jhongli City (中壢) began trial operations on Monday, with sparkling LED lights depicting the Milky Way galaxy and the 12 constellations drawing exclamations of surprise and awe from pedestrians.
The newly launched parking garage was originally a 1,000 ping (3,306m2) overground parking lot in front of the Pacific Sogo Department Store’s Jhongli Branch that had space for about 120 vehicles.
The city government ordered the conversion in March last year, to solve the problem of parking in the city’s main shopping area. The parking lot was to be turned into an underground garage that can accommodate 210 cars and 165 motorcycles.
It also sought to give the area an artistic touch by embedding multicolored LED lights into the pavements on the open area on top of the three-story garage, which it named the Galaxy Square Parking (銀河廣場停車場).
City officials said the project cost approximately NT$300 million (US$10.07 million), with the Taoyuan County Government contributing two-thirds of the sum and the city government paying the rest.
The officials said that in the first year after the launch, car owners would be charged NT$20 per hour, while motorcyclists would pay NT$30 for each entry.
However, neighboring residents at the site have raised concerns about potential light pollution caused by a giant flat screen installed at the square.
Jhongli Mayor Lu Ming-che (魯明哲) said the city government was still testing the screen, because its brightness seemed reasonable in daylight, but too intense at night.
“We will ask the contractor to tone down the screen’s brightness by between 20 and 30 percent during the night and turn off the device every day at 10pm, to ensure the quality of life of neighboring residents,” Lu said.