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  September 18, 2000

Construction Begins on Parking Garage

Contractors are expected on Sept. 18 to begin excavating the hillside at the intersection of Stadium and Hillside roads to make way for a new parking garage and a relocated and enlarged UConn Co-op.

The two-pronged project, which is expected to be completed next summer, will nearly double the size of the current bookstore and will add about 1,200 parking spaces at the Storrs campus.

Larry Schilling, University architect, says the project will lead to periodic traffic disruptions during the next few months, as hundreds of yards of dirt and granite are excavated from the hillside between the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion and the former horticultural storage and salesroom building. About 300 parking spaces will be lost during the work, but Ann Denny, manager of parking services, says daily surveys conducted by her department indicate there are at least that many vacant slots on campus on any given day.

The two-story, 53,000-square-foot Co-op will feature a dramatic glass-enclosed entrance and windows suitable for displays along both Hillside and Stadium Roads. Co-op General Manager William Simpson says plans call for the first floor to be mainly retail space, and the second floor to be a combination of textbooks, offices, storage and receiving. Each floor will offer access to the garage.

"We're very excited about the move," Simpson said. "For the first time, we can have a permanent café inside the Co-op to add to the ambience. We plan to include some new campus retailing concepts into the design of the new Co-op. We are also using this as an opportunity to incorporate many of the things we've learned during the past 25 years, in offering our merchandise and services in an even more customer-friendly environment."

Although the facade of the new building will be ready in May along with the garage, Simpson says it will take several more months to outfit the interior and transfer merchandise to the new location. He says he is hopeful the transition can be completed by the fall 2001 semester.

The garage, says Schilling, will not only be open by then, it should be open in time for commencement ceremonies in May. Vehicles will enter the garage at a point near the tennis court parking area, and there will be several exits.

At slightly more than 1,500 spaces, the new garage is larger than the existing garage by one-third. As in the north garage, some spaces will be sold on an annual basis, with the remainder available on an hourly basis.

The $24 million project will be financed through revenue bonds, to be repaid using parking revenues and a fee paid by the Co-op.

Once the project is completed, the current UConn Co-op will be razed, and the site will become green space and will be held as a potential future building location.

Richard Veilleux