East Tennessee State University officials and area government leaders ceremonially broke ground Thursday on the university’s new multi-use parking facility.
Designed by BarberMcMurry architects of Knoxville, the 425,00-square-foot, four-level building will include a 1,224-space parking garage, new offices for ETSU’s Public Safety Department and parking services, a student coffee shop and additional commercial spaces.
Retenbach Constructors will be the lead contractor on the building’s construction, which is projected for completion in the fall of 2013.
The facility will be located on the edge of the campus fronting West State of Franklin Road between the ETSU Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center and Jack Vest Drive.
A 300-space parking lot previously located on the site and the adjacent ETSU tennis courts will be moved father west on the campus, bringing the total cost of the project to $26.1 million.
ETSU President Brian Noland said Thursday the building will serve as the cornerstone of a larger project that will eventually move parking from the center of the campus to its periphery, opening up green space and creating a more attractive and pedestrian friendly campus.
Designs for the green space project will be selected this fall and the project will be completed by the fall of 2014, Noland said.
Excavation is already under way at the site of the new facility and the tennis courts have been barricaded to provide a lot for construction materials.
Because of the loss of 300 existing spaces, students, staff and faculty members will use parking areas located west of the construction area and at the new ETSU baseball stadium on University Parkway during the year-long project.
Dr. David Collins, ETSU’s vice president of finance and administration, said walkways will be put in place to route foot traffic around the construction area and a shuttle will be provided from the baseball stadium to the main campus.
Iqra Ahmad, president of ETSU’s Student Government Association, said while SGA members have heard a lot of talk about the longer walk to class during the construction, additional parking has been a top student request in surveys conducted over the past decade and is something students voted to help fund through an increase in parking fees approved in a campus referendum several years ago.
“It’s going to be a year and we’ve heard a lot of talk about the walk, but (more) parking its something students want. The Senate approved it and we are excited to see it,” Ahmad said.