UI hopes to Bring Business to Garage

By Jessica Schuh

The University will soon begin leasing commercial space on the ground floor of the recently completed parking facility at University and Goodwin Avenues in Urbana.

The retail floor – to be named Shoppes @ 1201 – was included in the construction of the new building to meet demand as more people move to the north side of campus and also to raise the revenue for the University to pay for the new facility, said Clif Carey, campus architect. The United States Geological Survey leased the north side of the ground floor and moved in this fall.

“What we do is try to humanize (the parking facility) a little bit,” Carey said.

Carey said the facility, 1201 University Ave., was built as part of the University’s master parking plan because campus parking spaces are lost as new buildings are constructed. Also, with the addition of new buildings in the area, such as the National Center for Supercomputing Applications building that is currently under construction, demand for parking increases.

“There is a total shortage of parking on this campus,” said Bob Kelly, director of parking. “Parking demand exceeds supply by a large margin.”

Although the parking portion of the facility was completed in August of 2004, business owners will not be able to move in until April 1, said Arthur J. Thoma Jr., broker for Coldwell Banker Commercial Devonshire Realty. Thoma, who is leasing the property for the University, said there were some things left to complete, such as installing the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and the canopies and grilling.

“We don’t have the tenants that we’d hope to have at this point,” Kelly said.

However, Thoma said he expects to start advertising the property by next week. He said he thinks there won’t be any trouble leasing the space and that a variety of businesses will be interested.

“I’ve got a whole list of people to go to,” he said.

With business sizes varying on how much space they want, Thoma said he expects to lease to six to eight tenants.

The six-level, 1,490-space facility has meter spaces on the first floor to provide parking for the commercial space, Kelly said. Students, staff and faculty, can lease spaces in the facility but spaces will be leased to tenants as well, he said.

The University leases parking spaces that are still available for this semester at $370 per year for faculty and staff and $156 per semester for students, Kelly said.

Leasing the commercial space will help the University “pay the mortgage” on the new facility because the revenue from leasing the spaces is not sufficient to pay for it alone, Carey said.

Planning for a new parking facility in central campus just east of the Ice Arena will begin in a couple of months, Carey said. There already is a waiting list for parking in central campus, and the construction of a new building for the College of Business will decrease parking space.