Parking commission says garage design on right track

Published 4:44 pm Saturday, August 5, 2017

Members of the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission reviewed the site plan Friday for the first public downtown parking garage on Friday and most seemed to approve of the direction architects are going in designing the three-story structure.

The architects have been meeting regularly for the last four weeks, according to Project Manager Casey Rogers with Innovative Construction Management.

“We’ve spent a good bit of time working on the site plan and elevations,” Rogers said. “We’re pretty excited by what we have.”

The garage will be built behind the Oxford-University Club and will have 412 parking spaces with about 100 surface spots remaining in the current parking lot, giving the downtown area a total of about 512 new parking spaces. It will sit about 40 feet from the corner of Jefferson Avenue and have three points of ingress and egress.

“We’ve created multiple points of entry and separated the pedestrians from the vehicles,” said Sloan Shipman with the Eley Guild Hardy architectural firm.

Sidewalks will be added from the garage to North Lamar Boulevard, Monroe Avenue and Boles Wiley street, which will likely become a pedestrian only walkway once construction begins on the garage.

An area for tour buses has been created on the east side of the garage that will allow tour buses to enter from Jefferson Avenue and leave from Monroe Avenue. Conversations are being held with Oxford University Transit officials about making a bus stop at the parking garage.

Several trees will surround the garage and a raised plaza will be built on the north side of the garage facing Jefferson Avenue to make the structure more attractive where it is most visible by passersby.

“We are adding a concrete pad for bike racks on the south side of the garage,” Rogers said.

An earlier version of the plans showed the garage with decorative arches; however, the design team decided they were unnecessary and removed them from the drawings and added more glass windows and trees to the site plan instead.

Leigh Anne Black, with EGH, said the site plan was designed to be attractive and efficient; but to be too inviting as a place for people to “hang out.”

“It’s all about movement,” she said. “You want to move them to and from the garage to wherever it is their destination is on the Square.”

The design team will present the final site plan to the Oxford Planning Department for review on Aug. 25. The plans will then go before the Oxford Planning Commission and Oxford Board of Aldermen.