Campus Development: Parking lot under President’s Circle?

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

An underground parking structure beneath Presidents’ Circle is one of two lower-campus parking solutions being tossed around as part of the campus master plan, a blueprint intended to guide development on campus for the next 20 years.

The other proposal is to a replace the Military Science Building, located on 100 South, with a garage.

Both parking lots would house 600 cars in five or six stories, said Mike Perez, associate vice president of facilities management.

The underground garage would cost between $20 and $25 million, or $35,000 per parking space, while the above-ground parking lot would cost about $12 to $18 million, or $20,000 to $25,000 per parking space.

It’s far more expensive to build underground because the garage would have to be designed to circulate the air, said Norman Chambers, an administrator who oversees commuter services.

With the underground structure, students and faculty would be able to drive into Presidents’ Circle as they do now. If they wanted to loop around the circle, drivers could stay on the right side, and those who wanted to park underground could stay in a left lane that would lead them to parking. The exit of the proposed parking lot would be located in front of Libby Gardner Concert Hall.

The second parking lot proposal would be a structure similar to the one adjacent to the LDS Institute of Religion. The structure would ultimately replace the Military Science Building in front of Greek Row.

This parking structure would be more feasible to build because it would require just a $5 million dollar donation from an outside source, Chambers said. The underground parking lot would require a $10 million donation.

Although their price tags differ, both structures would come with other, less quantifiable costs, because campus would be without either a historical building or the iconic landscape in Presidents’ Circle.

Perez said certain trees in the middle of Presidents’ Circle would not be replaced because of their age.

“I know there are strong feelings around Presidents’ Circle, but there is no way we’re ready to rip it apart,” Chambers said. “It’s a sacred area on campus. We would need to hold discussions and dialogues. We want to assure that this is not something we’re planning to embark on tomorrow.”

On the other hand, the other parking structure near Greek Row would demolish the Military Science Building.

Both Chambers and Perez want the U community to know that each proposal is in an early stage.

Although Perez said he has submitted a proposal with both structures to the administration, the designs are still conceptual.

“Again, nothing is going to happen tomorrow,” Chambers said. “This is a concept for long-term parking. Things could still change.”

If the administration approves one of the designs, it would have to receive the approval of the community and the Board of Trustees, Chambers said. Then the plans would go to the Utah State Legislature to be approved.

The earliest time construction would begin is 2010, Chambers said, who estimated the construction time for either structure to be between one and two years.

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