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Garage: Design One could change traffic flow on 23rd Avenue

By Staff
Editor's note: This is one of three preliminary designs for a downtown parking garage unveiled to the public by Meridian city officials and architects last week. A $7 million, 500-space parking garage is a key element in renovation of the Grand Opera House and Marks-Rothenberg Building and development of the Riley Education and Performing Arts Center. The Meridian Star will publish the other two design proposals on Monday and Tuesday.
By Chris Allen Baker/staff writer
Feb. 3, 2002
On-street parking on 23rd Avenue near the site would be eliminated and traffic flow could change in what architects describe as "design scheme one" of three being considered for a $7 million downtown parking garage.
Two of the designs feature a rectangular garage and retention of the old BellSouth building. The third design features an L-shape garage that would eliminate the old BellSouth building. The garage site is the city block between Seventh and Eighth Streets and 24th and 23 Avenues.
Dale and Associates Architects Inc. of Jackson, the firm contracted to supervise garage construction, met with city officials and the public last week to unveil the designs and receive input.
Design Scheme One'
In design scheme one, a rectangular shaped garage would include about 90 spaces on each of five levels and about 45 spaces on a half level. Motorists would park in spaces nine feet wide at 90 degree angles, allowing enough space for sport utility vehicles.
This scheme would allow the old BellSouth building to remain intact, but would require the relocation of fuel storage tanks currently on the site. It would maintain access to the new BellSouth building and allow the possibility of street-level retail space.
A courtyard between the garage and old BellSouth building would be included, featuring landscaping and pedestrian-friendly access to the garage.
The garage would include glass-backed stair and elevator towers on 23rd Avenue into the courtyard and on 8th Street across from the Temple Theater.
Motorists would enter and exit from 23rd Avenue using three lanes, one reversible, into the garage in a ramping system. Two-way traffic would move clockwise up and counter-clockwise down.
Traffic could remain one-way or become two-way on 23rd Avenue, and would include the elimination of on-street parking on at least 23rd Avenue near the garage. A speed ramp would take motorists from 23rd Avenue to level two.
All three designs show provisions for elevated skywalks that would extend from the second level of the garage across to the Threefoot Building and another to the future MSU/Marks-Rothenberg Conference Center.
The skywalks are not included in the project but skywalks could be added if desired, said Ron Hartley, senior project manager of Dale and Associates.
The city of Meridian is expected to receive a report from the project consultants and pick a design in the next few weeks. Construction is expected to begin this fall and could take eight to 12 months to complete.
Maureen Lofton, the city's assistant for governmental affairs, said last week that all three plans include demolition of the old Royal Theater, Troy Building, Jack's Sandwich Shop and Lawrence's Jewelry.