BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — Salem State University is launching another construction project: its first parking garage.
Although it’s still early in the process and a final decision has not even been made on the site, the 800-space parking structure will be built on the north or central campus, a college official said.
The Massachusetts State College Building Authority has announced an Aug. 29 deadline for firms to submit preliminary filings for design and construction management services for the $16 million project.
The garage plans come in the midst of a construction boom at Salem State that began a decade ago and continues unabated.
The grand opening of the Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons, a $73.5 million facility that will replace the old library, is set for Aug. 28.
A new $15 million fitness center, an addition to the O’Keefe Sports Center, will be dedicated in November.
Plans are expected to be announced soon for a new residence hall, the first since 525-bed Marsh Hall, which opened three years ago on the central campus.
In a change of plans, a university spokesman said Salem State has “suspended” efforts to build modular housing for about 100 freshmen. That project was announced in March as a temporary answer to the overflow of students in university residence halls.
“It was a matter of time and cost, with time being the primary concern,” Andy Soll, vice president of finance and facilities, said in a statement. “The contractor we were working with was not projecting completion until well into the fall semester, which is not workable when you have 100 students counting on housing.”
The parking garage will have 800 spaces, which would make it larger than the parking facility the MBTA is currently building at the Salem commuter rail station.
Parking has been an issue at the college for years and a source of neighborhood complaints. Demand has only increased during the development and dorm-building boom.
There is no timeline yet for construction, an official said. The schedule will hinge on state financing plans.
“We know we need to get the process started,” said Tom Torello, vice president of marketing and communications at Salem State. “And we know we need a parking garage, so there’s one in our future. We just don’t know if it’s two, three or five years down the road.”
The garage will be one more in a series of large and small construction projects that, over the past decade, have helped transform Salem State, Torello said.
“There’s a lot happening and a lot of demand for a Salem State University education,” he said. “So, we’re meeting that demand to make sure we give (students) the best possible experience while they’re here.”
Tom Dalton can be reached at email@example.com.
Salem State Projects
2004 — 450-bed Atlantic Hall
2005 — Alumni field redeveloped
2008 — New baseball field
2010 — 525-bed Marsh Hall
2010 — Weir property acquired
2013 — Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons
2013 — Fitness center at O’Keefe Sports Center
201? — 800-space parking garage