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Garage design would eliminate old BellSouth building

By By Chris Allen Baker / staff writer
Feb. 5, 2002
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 published the first design on Sunday and will publish the third on Tuesday.
The old BellSouth building on Seventh Street would be demolished to make way for a $7 million parking garage if Meridian leaders choose one of three possible designs.
The L-shaped proposed garage, as well as two other rectangular designs, would occupy 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 the garage construction, met with city officials and the public last week to unveil the designs and receive input.
The L-shaped garage would include 138 parking spaces on 41/2 levels; the half-level would include about 45 spaces.
The garage would include glass-backed stair and elevator towers on 23rd Avenue and Eighth Street across from the Temple Theater.
Traffic would flow counter-clockwise up through the garage and then clockwise down. The primary entrance and exit would be on 24th Avenue.
The design would provide more ground-level parking than the other two. Motorists would park in spaces 9 feet wide at 90 degree angles, allowing enough room for sport utility vehicles.
The design would require the relocation of fuel storage tanks and a generator currently on the site. It would maintain access to the new BellSouth building and allow the possibility of retail space on the ground level.
All three garage designs could include elevated skywalks from the second level to the Threefoot Building and from the Threefoot to the future Marks-Rothenberg Conference Center.
The skywalks are not included in the project but could be added if desired, said Ron Hartley, the senior project manager of Dale and Associates.
Meridian leaders are expected to choose a garage design in the next few weeks. Construction is expected to begin this fall and could take eight to 12 months to complete.
Maureen Lofton, assistant for governmental affairs for Meridian, said that all plans would demolish the old Royal Theater, Troy Building, Jack's Sandwich Shop and Lawrence's Jewelers.

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