SALEM — Salem State’s new 800-space parking garage will be built on the site of a current parking lot in the north campus area adjacent to Peabody Hall, officials recently announced.
The $16 million garage hasn’t been fully designed yet, but officials expect it will be a long, rectangular building, four-and-a-half stories tall, that all but fills the current lot. That lot is near residences on Rainbow Terrace and Raymond Road. The garage is slated to open by fall 2015.
The location was chosen from among three possible sites, the other two being in the vicinity of the O’Keefe complex on Canal Street and Atlantic Hall in central campus. Those two sites each had multiple possibilities for the positioning of the garage.
University spokesperson Karen Cady said locating the garage in the north campus would do the most to alleviate the college’s longstanding parking problems, and the least to hamper traffic on surrounding streets.
“Parking studies show that that’s where the demand was,” said Cady. “I think most people seem to agree that north campus makes the most sense.”
Cady said the decision was made collectively between the university and Desman Associates, the firm designing the garage. Locations were ranked based on 16 factors, and the university solicited input from the public through numerous meetings.
It’s unknown when construction could begin, and Cady said Desman is still studying ways to increase the garage’s number of parking spaces — and decrease its height.
“As with any construction project, until you get all the details ironed out, nothing is definitive,” she said.
Also, the company expects to meet with people who live in the residential area near the site.
“They want to meet with all the abutters,” Cady said.
Officials had eyed moving the university’s police station from its current location at central campus to the new garage, but the north campus site isn’t suitable, Cady said. The school will continue to study where the station should go. “That piece of the puzzle is still to be figured out,” Cady said.
The parking lot near Peabody Hall, where the garage will be built, has 335 spaces. Under current plans, some 80 will remain after the garage is built, meaning it would add roughly 475 additional spaces.
Cady said garage designs will be released at monthly meetings of the Salem State University Neighborhood Association as they become available. Those meetings are typically held on the third Wednesday of each month.
The two sites not chosen to host the new garage could eventually host one anyway, as Salem State envisions building more garages in the future.
Neil H. Dempsey can be reached at email@example.com or via Twitter at @NeilDempseySN.