Parking on the Square has increasingly become a problem for students, residents and visitors as entering freshman classes grow annually. To combat this problem, the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission has agreed to build the Square’s first parking garage, located behind the Oxford University Club.
The new parking garage will replace the current 237 spaces and add 450 to 500 spaces, with additional parking surrounding the garage. These updates are expected to double the parking inventory in that area.
“The need for more parking is the reason the city decided to invest in a garage,” Parking Director Matt Davis said.
Although official construction dates have yet to be set, construction for the garage is expected to begin in January 2018 and be finished by the following fall 2018 semester.
“January is the tentative timeline to begin construction,” Mike Harris, Director of Ole Miss Parking and Transportation and member of the Downtown Parking Advisory Commission, said. “It is our hope that it would be completed by the beginning of football fall 2018.”
Concerning local businesses, Davis said he does not think the temporary lack of spots will affect revenue on the Square in a negative way.
“With the parking lot under construction, there will be some changes but nothing that should affect the local businesses,” Davis said. “There are still plenty of on street spaces that aren’t being used during the day, and our Oxford Park Commission parking lot off of South 14th Street normally has 100 unused spaces.”
Senior business major Maddy Young said the parking garage is a good idea and that she struggles to find parking on the Square during game weekends.
“On a normal Tuesday afternoon, it’s not a problem finding a parking spot on the Square, but when there’s orientation or football games or anything that draws a large crowd, then there’s a really hard time finding parking anywhere near the Square,” Young said.
Because traffic is expected to increase following the opening of the new garage, the commission is considering adding a turning lane at Jefferson Avenue and Lamar Boulevard. Roads surrounding the parking garage site are not expected close during construction.
With the closure of more than 200 parking spaces while the garage is being constructed, the commission is exploring other temporary parking spots to accommodate the lack of space.
The garage’s construction costs and source for this funding are still being discussed and have not yet been approved.
During this time, meters will continue to be enforced Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight at an hourly rate of $1.25.
“I’m excited about the new parking garage,” Young said. “I feel like it’s something that Oxford has needed for a long time because of how much growth the city has seen. It’ll definitely be a great addition.”