Sun, May 26, 2024

$33 million parking deck breaks ground

Students at Augusta University’s (AU) Health Sciences campus will soon spend more time in classrooms and less time searching for parking.

A groundbreaking ceremony for an on-campus parking deck was held on Monday near Elm Hall, just off R.A. Dent Blvd.

Yvonne Turner, Executive Vice President for Finance, said the university needs modern facilities to support students, faculty, and staff.

“The construction of this parking deck is a significant step in meeting those needs and ensuring that our university remains a place where academic pursuits and campus life can thrive,” she said.

Dr. Brooks Keel, President of the university, said the parking deck is an integral part of continued growth at AU. Last semester, they broke through the once-imagined glass ceiling of 10,000, now reaching an enrollment of 10,546. The target is still “16 by 30,” 16,000 students by 2030.

He told ABD that the economic health of AU is directly tied to the economic health and growth of the city of Augusta.

“We’ve said all along that we’re tied together at the hip. As we grow, the city grows and vice versa,” he said. “We’re very, very cognizant of the fact that we play a major role in the economic development. It’s not just about providing the education of our students as important as that is, but it’s also about those students spending money in the city. People that come to work are spending money in the city. It all puts resources into Augusta, and as that happens, Augusta begins to have more development, to provide apartments, to provide the restaurants and all the things that our students go to.”

AU Real Estate Foundation Board member and former Augusta City Councilor, Jerry Woods

Funding for the $33 million project is through the Augusta University Real Estate Foundation. Board member, Jerry Woods participated in the groundbreaking. Woods has seen the needs growing at AU, both through the foundation and as an Augusta City Councilman from 1984 to 1996.

“I think it’s exciting,” he told ABD. “It shows that AU is growing, that it is trying to meet the needs of its students and its faculty and staff. This is something, even though a parking deck is not glamorous, it’s absolutely necessary. You have to anticipate; you have to have the infrastructure. It is not just the academic programs, it’s that physical infrastructure that has to be in place.”

The six-level, 400,000-square-foot structure will provide 1,350 parking spaces. That increases on-campus parking by about 60%. Students, faculty, and staff will use it.

Dale Hartenburg, Assistant Vice President for Campus Services, said while increasing the availability of on-campus parking, the new deck will reduce the number of parking lots they rent.

“We rent probably close to 1,000 spaces around the area from local churches,” he explained for ABD. “We have a partnership with the Richmond County Board of Education. Some of those will continue just to make it convenient, but others, we’ll look to bring folks right here into campus.”

There will be charging stations for electric vehicles on the first and second floors. Construction is expected to be completed by Spring 2025.

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