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Changes To Oxford Square Parking Garage Approved By Board Of Alderman

“The Belk Lot” on the Oxford Square – Future site of the parking garage

On Tuesday the Board of Alderman voted unanimously to revise the city’s approach to the downtown parking garage. Originally proposed as a design-build, the garage will now become a traditional design-bid-build project.

“The idea to revise the plan came from our legal council and our city engineering team. It’s important to get this thing right on the front end, and that’s what everyone voted for last night,” said Matt Davis, director of parking. 
Bart Robinson acknowledged that there are pros and cons to both approaches, but the city felt a design-bid-build made more sense after lengthy consideration. The ability to have the entire plan complete before beginning construction may sacrifice time, but the city believes it’s more important to get things right rather than get it up quickly. 
“The owner has more control in the design, the preliminary thought process, and that is perhaps the biggest pro to come with this decision,” Robinson said. “If neighborhoods are wanting a different look to the garage, you can handle that on the front end. The design is totally complete before you begin construction, whereas in a design-build project you start building your foundation before you have completed the design, making it more difficult to change things in the back end.”
The city has spent about a year on the current plan, and while the change of direction may delay construction, it is worth it to ensure the city is content with the design.  
“Minds and ideas change. Losing that work isn’t a waste because it has helped us narrow the focus of a project that the city wants and can be proud of. They saw that going through design-build they didn’t have some of the controls that they wanted, but bid-build will give us that control,” Robinson said. “We’ll be able to control the quality of the construction by choosing materials and everything else that goes in the process.”
The 500-spot parking garage will replace the “Belk Lot” that currently has 234 spots. Some freestanding spots will remain and the city will see a net gain of 300-350 parking spots when the project is complete. As construction gets closer to beginning, Robinson noted that the city is currently researching the best ways to make up the lost spaces during the lengthy construction process. The timeline for the garage depends on how quickly a design can be chosen and details can be settled. 
“It is still too early to be certain. I suspect the construction of the garage is a 10-15 month project,” Robinson said. “If the design can be completed by September, October 2017… we are hopeful the construction could be bid late fall of 2017 and completed late fall of 2018.” 
The RFQ will be released to the public on Friday. A March 28 deadline has been set to send in completed RFQs. 

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com
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