New parking garage planned

Construction on a $9 million parking garage is set to begin in May and will be completed by summer 2009, Associate Vice President of Plant Operations David Irvin said.

The garage will be across the street from the Calhoun Lofts on Calhoun Road, he said.

"I’ve never been on a campus that had enough parking," Irvin said. "We can’t solve the problem, but we make the problem (as) small and manageable as we can."

The new garage, which will be about 400,000 square feet, will be smaller than the existing one, he said.

"We’re looking at a parking garage with 900 to 1,000 cars; the current one is 1,5000 spaces and includes mixed usage," Irvin said.

Funding for the new garage will come solely from parking revenue, Irvin said.

"Primarily because of the new garage’s location, there’s not much retail we can do in that area. We could have waited and seen what retail would have come with the Calhoun Lofts, but we couldn’t afford to wait until 2010," he said.

The size and type of garage was determined by the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee, which is mostly composed of students and some faculty and staff.

"That group spent hours talking about different options," Irvin said. "We’re certainly trying to balance the costs across the board."

Since the parking garage was approved at the UH System Board of Regents meeting on Thursday, the University is still looking for a contractor to finalize its design, Irvin said.

Parking fees rose 7 percent this year, and the new garage will also raise prices, although it’s too early to know what the fee hike will be, Irvin said.

Unlike the current parking garage, which shares part of its space with the Welcome Center, the new garage will be solely used for parking, UH Director of Parking and Transportation Services Robert Browand said.

The number of parking permits sold for the current garage has increased to 1,823 student permits from 1,387 in the 2006-07 year, Browand said.

"Students and faculty are starting to realize that the garage is a great deal," Irvin said.

Although the garage permits are $67 more than standard permits, some students find that the advantages outweigh the cost.

"It’s covered, and there’s a lot more security," engineering junior Phillip Loya said. "I would say it’s definitely worth the extra money you pay."

Cost has always been an issue for some, such as print journalism junior Hannah Eastham.

"I would use the Parking Garage if it I didn’t have to pay extra for it, and if I was allowed to park in other areas as well," she said.

Media production junior Zach Moore said he’s concerned about how construction will affect other lots.

"It’s another waste of a parking area because while they’re building it, it takes away valuable parking space," he said.

About 250 parking spaces will be added this semester in areas around Robertson Stadium and the UH Law Center, Irvin said.

Although a location has not been determined, negotiations will be finalized Friday for free satellite parking for students, Irvin said.

"It’s supposed to open up Tuesday after Labor Day. We realize that the cost is a huge consideration for students. We want to provide a range of options," Irvin said.

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