Temporary lots provide parking spaces until completed parking structure alleviates crunchBy Jennifer Leovy
Driving a car to campus during the first weeks of any Fall Quarter can seem a bit like joining a territorial battle. Able soldiers arrive early, prepared to claim the first parking space they spot on the street. This year in particular, some drivers may sense they are losing the battle.
The good news is that the new parking structure will add a net-gain of more than 500 spaces. According to Meredith Mack, Director of Facilities Services, Things should improve considerably by the end of December. We are just going to have to get through the next few months, and then the new parking structure will be completed and things will finally be vastly better. We know parking is especially difficult right now, so we have created yet another additional community parking lot that will add spaces until the new parking structure is finished.
As most people who drive to campus already know, street parking is especially tight this year because the construction of new residence halls and the parking structure has temporarily eliminated a significant number of spaces on Ellis, Greenwood and University avenues as well as on 55th, 56th and 57th streets, Mack explained.
The newest community parking lot adds 50 additional free spaces and is located at Phemister Hall at 57th Street and Drexel Avenue. The site is the future home of the Interdivisional Research Building and will remain a parking lot until construction begins there in 2001.
Facilities Services created last spring two temporary free lotsa 24-space lot located off the 5600 block of Maryland Avenue and a 28-space lot at the southwest corner of 55th Street and Ellis Avenue. In addition, a 60-space, gravel parking lot has been installed behind the Law School at 60th Street and Kimbark Avenue.
Mack said the University community is unlikely to feel a parking pinch when construction begins on the Gerald Ratner Athletics Center and the IRB because the parking structure at 55th Street will then be open and able to accommodate visitor parking.
The rates for the new structure are under review and will be determined in early October, Mack said. In mid-November, six weeks before the building opens, the Parking Office will notify the Stagg Lot permit holders, who will have first priority for spaces in the new structure. The office will then notify people on the waiting list that spaces are available.
The Parking Office is continuing to add names to the waiting list for the new structure and may be reached at (773) 702-8969. All parking in the building will be free after 4 p.m. and on weekends.
Although the shell of the building is nearly complete, significant work will continue on the inside throughout the quarter, including the additions of stairwells, finished flooring, electrical wiring, elevators, lobbies and interior lighting.
When the building is finished, there will be decorative metal elements fitted in the windows, cascading vines that will soften the roofline and glass encased offices and businesses on the first floor, said Curt Heuring, University Architect. I think we will ease the parking strain and begin to see a new center of activity north of 56th Street.
Although all of the parking problems in Hyde Park may never be conquered, the 1,068-space parking structure will add a net-gain of more than 500 spaces in the area that University-commissioned, independent studies identified as having the greatest demand. The new structure also will provide 80 visitor spaces, almost twice the number currently available.
For regular updates and Web-cam images of campus construction, visit http://www.uchicago.edu/docs/mp-site/construction/.