Auburn University's Board of Trustees met Friday morning and approved the proposal to build a new parking deck on South College Street.
The new deck will be constructed in the south parking lot of the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center.
The board's Property and Facility Committee heard from Dan King, assistant vice president for facilities, about the plans for the project. The committee approved the plans before the full panel met to hear the proposal later in morning at the hotel.
"An Auburn University parking structure in this location will significantly improve the parking situation in the northeast portion of the campus core," King said. "It will yield a net increase of roughly 400 spaces over the existing surface parking in the south hotel lot."
The estimated $13.2 million, five-story parking deck will have 575 spaces — an addition of 395 spaces over the existing surface parking lot to the south of the hotel. King announced that during construction, the currently available 200 spaces where construction will take place will be unavailable during the time of construction.
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Trustee B.T. Roberts expressed concern with the inconvenience caused by losing 200 spaces during the construction of the new deck.
The deck will primarily be targeted for use by hotel guests and staff, students and faculty at the planned Tony and Libba Rane Culinary Science Center, faculty and staff at the Mell Classroom Building across the street and students parking at night to study at Ralph Brown Draughon Library. As of now, no specific numbers of spots have been allocated to each facility.
When the Board of Trustees adopted a resolution approving the new culinary science center in 2017, a parking lot was planned for that location, which sits directly to the north of the Auburn University Hotel. But later, it was found that the project site would not support the new structure.
"This project will follow an accelerated schedule to allow for the construction of the structure while the design of the Culinary Science Center is being finalized," King said. "The proposed schedule for this parking deck project is to begin construction in early summer 2018 and to complete the parking deck structure in March 2019."
The project was proposed to alleviate a problematic parking situation in the northeast portion of the campus core. Trustee Elizabeth Huntley expressed her concern regarding the traffic this structure could cause on South College Street.
According to the hotel's managing director of hotel operations and educational initiative, Hans Van Der Reijden, the hotel's recent renovations have led to the center seeing a significant increase in conference bookings in the rest of the year and those to follow.
"This increase in business benefits our community in terms of tax revenues and provides our campus a competitive advantage over other universities in attracting research-driven conferences," Van Der Reijden said. "With this increase in conference business comes an increase in demand for parking.”
Van Der Reijden said the design of the parking structure shows the University's dedication to aesthetics, wanting to enhance the empty space south of the hotel, which faces South College Street.
"As the operator for Auburn University’s own hotel, we appreciate the foresight and the vision to find solutions to the increasing pressure on parking for faculty, hotel guests and others on campus,” Van Der Reijden said.
Trustee Michael DeMaioribus showed concern for the safety of students crossing College Street. King said a median strip stretching the length of the structure is proposed to be built on College Street to prevent students from crossing four lanes of traffic.
The board voted to approve this project at the conclusion of the meeting with approval from every member but one. Trustee Jimmy Rane abstained from the approval of the project.
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