December 26, 2012 9:57:25 AM
Officials at Mississippi State University are looking to alleviate parking issues and add some classroom space with a new building in the center of campus.
Set to be located at the corner of George Perry and Barr Ave., the five-story building will house parking on its first two floors and utilize the top three for academic space.
Mike Harris, director of Parking Services at MSU, said ground will likely be broken on the project in August or July of 2013, with a tentative completion date set for fall 2014.
"We hope to be occupying it by January 2015," he said.
The Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning approved preliminary plans for the project in Oct. 2011.
Plans for the parking garage include approximately 145 total spaces, which will be on a pay for time system, like the meters the university already have in place throughout campus, and will not require a permit.
The subterranean topography of the site played a significant role in the building's design, and was in some ways advantageous.
"There is that big drop off behind the YMCA building, and that's where the parking will be, in that ditch, more or less," Harris said. "The bottom floor will be pretty much an underground level, you'll enter the bottom level off of Barr and the second level off of George Perry."
Harris said visitor parking was a priority when discussing the ultimate purpose of the building and its location.
"This will be mostly aimed at visitors, but anyone can use it," he said. "We will be directing visitors there as much as possible because it gives them access to the heart of campus."
But the building's estimated 90,000 square feet of academic space was hardly overlooked.
According to Harris, the top three floors will include over 38 state-of-the-art classroom facilities, which he said will serve multiple departments.
"They are going to be very modern classrooms, a lot of auditorium-type classrooms," he said. "The plans have a lot of infrastructure as far as multimedia goes, as well. It's a little more involved than regular classrooms."
But the most important thing for Harris is centralizing more parking for visitors, and even though space might not exactly be an issue for the university, building vertically may be the key to that.
Harris said it might be a smart move to construct a similar building on the south side of campus as well, though no plans have been discussed.
"That would probably be the next area we would be looking to place one, though," he said.