St. Paul College plans a 'green' parking ramp

Parking structures may not be the most environmentally correct projects
on the planet, but the $18.8 million ramp planned for St. Paul College
could be an exception to the rule.
"Any time we do a construction project, we want to do it as green as possible," said Tom Doody, physical plant manager for the college.

The college, which is seeking design and engineering proposals for the project, envisions a six-story ramp with 900 to 1,000 stalls, possibly expanding to 1,800 stalls in a future addition.

The ramp will be just west of the main building at 235 Marshall Ave.

A request for proposals calls for a poured concrete ramp with an "architecturally pleasing and durable façade," multi-level entrances, visibility from Interstate 94 and a covered pedestrian link, among other features.

The RFP directs the design team to look at "life-cycle costing" issues, with an emphasis on energy efficiency, sustainability and the "maintainability of design, materials and equipment."

One thing the project will do is free up existing surface parking for green space.

Heated portions of the parking ramp will be hooked up to St. Paul District Energy, which derives its power from renewable sources. Plans also call for efficient LED lighting and other sustainable features.

"Where I have looked at LED lighting in parking ramps, it works really nice," Doody said.

The ramp will accommodate future growth at the campus, including a planned 40,000-square-foot addition that will house science, math, engineering and technology offerings, the RFP noted.

With increased interest in those and other programs, enrollment is on the rise - and so is the demand for parking.

"It gets pretty crowded here," Doody said. "We have students that are riding around, trying to find places to park. And the city a few years ago went to permit parking in the surrounding neighborhood, so parking has gotten tighter."

Plus, he said, "It's a commuter campus and we have a full night-school program. We turn the parking lot over about three times a day. We have almost as many students here at night as we do during the day."

A ramp makes sense for the area because there is little or no land for expansion of surface parking. And to the extent that land is available, it's very expensive in the historic neighborhood, Doody noted.

The college plans to use revenue bonds to pay for the project. Ultimately, revenue from student and staff parking fees will pay off the bonds.

If all goes well, construction could begin in spring 2011 with completion in spring 2012.
St. Pauls college
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