Infamous for free, chaotic parking, the dirt lot is now closed for construction.
After years of unregulated parking on the dirt lot at 11th Street and Montgomery Avenue, students and faculty will have to look elsewhere for free parking.
The lot, previously unowned by the university, was recently acquired by Temple with help from the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, Hillel Hoffmann, assistant director of news communications, said.
Hoffmann said that the lot is one of 40 different parcels of land that Temple has been trying to acquire for a number of years.
Students and faculty who drive to Main Campus found the lot barricaded off at the beginning of the fall semester.
The lot was closed for use in August and is being prepped for the construction of a new parking garage. Construction is due to start in the middle of October.
University Architect Margaret Carney said the new parking garage will feature landscaping and retail space along Berks Street.
“The big picture is that this is a parking garage, so obviously the real intent of it was to park cars and ideally to park student or staff cars, or cars of people who have been parking on the dirt lot without having to pay for parking all these years,” Carney said.
Carney added that the garage will be able to house vehicles at a higher capacity than the dirt lot.
“The same square footage of the site is going to be able to accommodate three times as many cars as could park on that lot before,” Carney said. “So that means that’s that many more cars that we can hopefully get out of the neighborhoods.”
Carney said the four-story garage will house 1,116 parking spaces and will have exits on both sides of the building, allowing people to exit from either Berks Street or Montgomery Avenue.
There are plans to add retail space within the garage, which has the room to house either one large shop or two smaller ones, Carney said. There will also be a large area of “green” space that will sit back off of Berks Street.
The project will cost approximately $22.5 million, according to the Facilities Management website.
Carney said that construction should be complete approximately 16 months after it begins this October.
The dirt lot has long been hailed for its convenience, but has also been a center of controversy due to its lack of regulation and security, which can be found in Temple-owned lots.
“It was both [convenient and inconvenient],” said Maurizio Giammarco, an intellectual heritage professor. “It was unregulated, so depending on the time of day that you came to campus and went to park there, sometimes there would be spaces available, other times there wouldn’t be, so in that sense it was very unpredictable.”
Giammarco added that its unpredictability led people to feel weary about parking in the lot.
“You had to be really careful because there would be floods, there would be piles of dirt and spills of other kinds,” Giammarco said. “I think [the garage] will be cleaner, less wear and tear on the cars and less frustration for the drivers. I also think it will be safer, too.”
“I just think it will be much more convenient for all involved, not just the student body and faculty, but even for the staff, the people who have to work on campus,” Giammarco added.
Sean Carlin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.