At its latest meeting, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved the design for the new downtown parking garage. The design for the new garage was inspired by Oxford City Hall to incorporate a common theme with the look of the other buildings on the Square.
This is the second attempt at a design for the garage. The first attempt didn’t appeal to all the aldermen because of its outward appearance.
Mayor Robyn Tannehill and some aldermen described the first design as being “too boxy.” Tannehill said she is more than pleased with the revised design. though.
“I am very excited about the design,” Tannehill said. “I was certainly not a fan favorite when I said I did not like the (first) design of the garage. I just felt like we could better.”
Aldermen thought the garage should look appealing and fit in with the other buildings on the Square, even though it’s a parking garage. The board unanimously approved the updated design and many thought it was an improvement from the first attempt.
Board members said the architect did a great job creating a design that fit in with the rest of the Square.
“I think the garage will be a great asset to our community, and I’m very proud of it,” Ward II Alderman Mark Huelse said.
The garage will be behind the Oxford University Club and will contain more than 400 new parking spaces.
It is an ongoing project with the city because of a lack of parking on the Square, especially during the weekends. Citizens and students both have expressed frustration because of the lack of downtown parking during weekends. The new parking garage has the potential to add more visitors and revenue to the Square by making parking easier.
The board is still discussing the specific plans on how to finance the project, but it does not want it to be funded through a tax increase that would be unpopular with residents.
“I feel very passionately about two things,” Tannehill said. “No. 1 — that the garage be funded totally through parking revenue and not taxes. And I also feel very strongly that we still have some free parking for downtown employees.”
The city plans to primarily fund the new project with revenue collected from parking meters and parking citations that citizens receive. The other source will be the revenue collected from people parking in the new garage.
“I think that what you’ll see is a combination of free parking,” Tannehill said. “You’ll see the premium parking around the Square, another rate for some of the outlying lots and an even lesser rate for the garage.”
The cheaper rates for the garage are to encourage people to park in it and to make parking more available on the crowded Square. If this happened, there could be less traffic headed away from the area.
Now that the Board of Aldermen has approved the design, the garage is out for estimates. Once estimates have been completed, the board hopes to start building it by the beginning of 2018.