Parking on the Square is about to get easier. The Oxford Downtown Parking Commission has laid the plans for a $7 million parking garage near the Oxford Square offering 401 garage spaces and an additional 90 surface spaces.
The garage will be located behind the University Club on Lamar Avenue with at least four floors. People will have to pay to park. The current lot is free. A $0.50 per hour price is what visitors can expect to pay for the garage’s paid spots, while all outdoor parking spaces will remain.
Oxford resident Sandra Jackson believes this new parking option is a step in the right direction.
“Maybe they can keep these meters [in The Square], and the garage can be free,” she said. “Where’s all this money going to that they’re getting off these meters? At some point, all of this should be paying for itself, and there should be free parking.
“Being that I live here year-round, I would like to just pay an annual pass. I think I should pay a flat rate, but at some point it should not always be paid parking. If I worked on the Square, I’d be really frustrated about trying to find parking.”
One of the Oxford Downtown Parking Commission’s ideas is to allow employees and other Square workers to purchase hourly or monthly passes.
Visitor from New York, Randy Redd, found parking easily on a Tuesday night, but he said he can see how a busy Friday night could add strain and increase parking problems.
“If there were some kind of larger facility nearby, and you could walk to the Square from there, that could increase some of the nightly foot traffic,” he said,
Another resident, Katrina Caldwell, said the garage could have some paid hours and some free hours.
“Maybe we could have free parking during certain times of the day that are optimal for families, for instance,” she said. “That could encourage people to come down for some business, or if people come down and buy things or visit certain stores, they get a voucher or a pass to get out of the lot for free because they bought something. That might incentivize people to come around here in busier times with families.”
Oxford already has parking meters around the Square, but they are only active between 10 a.m. and midnight, every day of the week except Sunday.
As far as design goes, the current proposition is a four-story red brick structure with white stone trim. There are three entry and exit places, and the building will only be two rows of parking instead of three like the residential garage at the University of Mississippi. The building is not taller than the buildings around it, so it will not obstruct the look of the Square.
Also included in the garage construction is an office for the Square’s police unit, a public restroom, a public meeting room, and outdoor green spaces.
One thing that has not been widely discussed are parking spots for electric vehicles, something the current parking lot has.
Outside of the garage, there will still be surface parking around the sides of the garage. Some are parallel spaces. Two spaces for buses are in the plans.
The city also plans to add parking for bikes and work more with the Pathways Commission to increase the ease of foot and vehicle traffic to and from the garage.
Construction was set to begin in January 2018 after receiving unanimous support in early December, but the cost of steel among other things has caused some delays, setting construction back.