Park Place. Kent State’s First Parking Deck to Improve Access, Allow for Campus Transformation

When Daniela Muñoz Perales comes to campus for class, she has to remember more than her books and assignments.

As a commuter student, she must also allow extra time to find a parking spot.

“The lack of spaces causes a lot of frustration among drivers, and I have seen people followed to their car by other drivers in the hope they will leave and that parking space will open,” Parales said.

A school psychology graduate student from Aurora, Ohio, Perales often seeks a parking spot in the crowded lot along Main Street close to White Hall, where she attends classes and serves as a graduate assistant.

Her parking options are about to improve significantly.

Daniela Muñoz Perales, Commuter Student
"The lack of spaces causes a lot of frustration among drivers." - Daniela Muñoz Perales

 

Perales and other Kent State students who park on the northern edge of the Kent Campus can now give a collective cheer as additional parking is on the way via an 1,100-space, five-story parking deck. The Kent State Board of Trustees approved the deck’s construction at its Dec. 4 meeting.

Linden Miller, a junior majoring in public relations from Hudson, Ohio, also welcomed the news.

“More parking is an awesome way to grab students’ attention,” she said. “I think that the parking deck will be beneficial for students because it always helps to have more spaces.”

Linden Miller, Junior
"I think that the parking deck will be beneficial for students because it always helps to have more spaces." - Linden Miller

 

A Positive Impact

The new Main Street parking deck will be located off of Midway Drive between Williamson House, Nixson Hall and the Center for the Performing Arts. The new $29 million facility will offer mostly covered parking spaces that have been sought by faculty and students, including commuter students, whose classes are typically scheduled along that area of campus.

Larry Emling, manager of parking services who has worked at Kent State for 21 years, said he has frequently been asked by students, “When are you going to build a parking deck?”

He now has the answer.

Construction will begin summer 2020, and the new parking deck is expected to be open for fall 2021 classes.

“The parking deck will improve parking for students, particularly on that part of campus, meeting a need and a demand,” Emling said. “Parking in that area is currently limited for students because of the location. There wasn’t much room to expand or grow in that area, except upward.

“Whenever you can add more parking space, you are able to serve more students, and that’s a positive. This parking deck will have a positive impact on that area.”

 

BY THE NUMBERS

5-Storyparking deck tucked into the hillside
1,100mostly covered parking spaces
3separate entrances provide easy access
 

Added Benefits to Campus and Community

Michael Bruder, executive director of facilities, planning and design at Kent State, said that in addition to the parking deck’s many benefits, most of the cars parked there will be covered and shielded from the sun, rain, snow and other inclement weather. He also said the deck’s location offers convenience.

“It’s located close to East Main Street, which is a large state route that is expected to be turned into a tree-lined boulevard in 2024,” Bruder said. “Walking distances are very convenient to the buildings in the area. The parking deck helps with the transformation of this area per the master plan and also provides convenient parking for our performance arts venues.”

In terms of its design, Bruder said the parking deck will be built into the hillside to minimize visual impact to the campus and neighborhood. The university is working with Payto Architects of Cleveland, Ohio, to design the cast-in-place concrete structure that will have brick accents to match the new College of Business Administration building.

Another feature of the new parking deck is that it will offer multiple access points.

“There are three ways into the parking deck and three ways out from three different levels – off Midway Drive on the first level, off Main Street on the second level and off Theatre Drive on the third level,” Emling said. “This will help manage the traffic flow since you have different ways to get in and out from different levels. And with it being a larger structure, there is a greater chance of finding an open space.”

Emling said that the university is working with the Portage Area Regional Transportation Authority (PARTA) to make sure there are bus stops in the area of the parking deck.

“Access to the transportation system should be pretty convenient,” he said.

Let the Transformation Begin

The parking deck is the first major construction project to create a new signature gateway to the Kent Campus. The project is outlined in Phase One of the university’s 10-year facilities master plan called the Gateway to a Distinctive Kent State, or the Kent Gateway Plan. Developed with input from students, faculty and staff as well as Kent community members, the plan aims to transform the Kent Campus to better serve the needs of students and the entire Kent State community.

Watch the video below that shows the new parking deck and changes to the Kent Campus as part of the facilities master plan.

The parking deck is being constructed first to minimize disruption and inconvenience for students and the university community. Once construction begins on the College of Business Administration building, surface parking lots along Main Street will be removed. The parking deck provides a net increase of more than 200 parking spaces after the removal of the surface lots.

“This parking deck is needed to realize the rest of the Kent Gateway Plan,” said Dean Tondiglia, chief of Kent State Police and director of public safety, who oversees Parking Services. “We’ll need to relocate parking in the College of Business Administration building footprint to go into that deck. With the College of Business Administration coming to the front of campus, we’ll be bringing new people to that part of campus.”

In addition to the parking deck, the transformation of the area includes closing Terrace Drive from Main Street and realigning approximately 2,250 feet of roadway to connect to Midway Drive. Landscape, green space and pedestrian improvements will also help create the reimaged central gateway to the Kent Campus and extend the iconic Front Campus landscape.

Rendering of Gateway Area Site Plan
Rendering of Gateway Area Site Plan


The new roadway system will provide direct access to the new College of Business Administration building and other facilities in the area, the Main Street parking deck and White Hall. A Kent State-branded sign at the main entry intersection will welcome students and visitors.

Preserving the Past

In the original master plan, the parking deck was to be situated where the Williamson House stands. The former residence of the university president and now the home of the Women’s Center and the Center for Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services will instead be preserved and remain where it is.

The location of the parking deck has been moved back from Main Street to be situated between Williamson House, Nixson Hall and the Center for the Performing Arts. Tucked in the hillside, the new location also preserves a large grove of mature trees along Main Street.

Williamson House
The Williamson House will be preserved and remain where it is.


The nearby Carriage House will be removed to make room for the new parking deck. Built in approximately 1920, the Carriage House is currently being used by the Grounds crew to store equipment and stage staff out of the building. It also houses some custodial offices in the area. These operations will be relocated as part of the area’s overall transformation.

All of it is good news to Perales, who admits she was surprised that the university considered building a parking deck but feels the additional parking spaces will help the campus community, particularly commuter students who sometimes struggle to find open spaces with their “C” parking permits.

“I think it will be beneficial if they (the spaces in the parking deck) are open to individuals with ‘C’ passes as those are the people who struggle the most to find a spot near White Hall,” she said.

# # #

Caption for Gateway Area Site Plan:
The rendering shows the location of the new parking deck and the realignment of Terrace Drive at Kent State University.

Media Contacts:
Eric Mansfield, emansfie@kent.edu, 330-672-2797
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 - 1:34pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 - 2:40pm
WRITTEN BY:
Emily Vincent