Some savvy Black Friday shoppers planning to head to the Mall of America have already scored their first deal of the day. They’ve lined up premium parking just steps from the front door.

They used MyPark, an app-based parking system that allows shoppers and visitors to the nation’s largest shopping and entertainment complex to reserve parking spots right by the main entrances in both the East and West parking garages.

Think of it as parking on layaway.

Guests can reserve one of 20 spots — 10 on the east side and 10 on the west side — set aside for app users anytime from just a few minutes before they arrive at the mall to up to six months in advance.

“It allows the guest to have control and not have to hunt for a space,” said MyPark President and CEO Luis Mayendia.

Of course, there is a fee for convenience. But it might be worth the $6 for up to two hours to park on the lower level and avoid having to roam the ramps in search of a spot — a chore on weekends and during the holiday season for sure.

The app automatically adds an extra $3 for each additional hour, so there is no hassle for longer stays.

“They can stay as long as they want,” Mayendia said.

Here’s how it works: You open the app on your phone, select a participating location and find a spot. Users with reservations will get an e-mail 15 minutes before their reserved time to let them know which spot to go to. If you’re running late, just tap a button on the app to add another 15 minutes before your arrival.

Once you arrive, hit a button on your phone and a tiny little robot guarding “your space” will lower to allow you to drive into the best parking spots in the place, Mayendia said.

“It allows the guest to have control and not have to hunt for a space,” he said. “We have people who have already reserved for Black Friday.”

The Mall of America has about 13,000 parking spaces, but on Saturdays and busy days “parking can create anxiety,” said Jill Renslow, senior vice president of marketing and business development.

Since MyPark arrived Oct. 26, more than 350 people have made reservations using the app, Renslow said. And as a promotion, first-time users can try My Park at no charge by using the code MYPARK1.

Mayendia said the Miami-based app company may expand it to other shopping malls in the Twin Cities in the coming year.

Why the shiny noise wall?

Drive reader Paul noticed that sound walls near the end of the new Nine Mile Creek causeway on Hwy. 169 in Edina are made of a shiny metallic material and not wood like most other walls that line metro highways and freeways. He wondered why.

Safety first, said Natalie Ries, noise and air quality program supervisor with MnDOT’s Metro District.

Unlike the standard wood glue-laminated walls that are generally set back from the roadway, this wall on the north end of the bridge is made of acrylic panels with metal posts to meet crash-testing standards, Ries said.

The wall is immediately adjacent to traffic lanes and there is no clear zone, the space in ditches free of trees and other objects that drivers could hit. With no clear zone, the wall is built to protect drivers better than wooden walls would in crashes.


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