Underground Parking Solution Must Wait

Snider Plaza’s appeal comes from its collection of longstanding businesses, not the shopping center’s parking, infrastructure, and landscaping.

“We don’t have a collective sense of trees out there,” University Park City Manager Robbie Corder said. “They weren’t planted all at the same time; some were live oak, others are maples.”

The city will soon seek input from business owners and the public and rely on Catalyst Group and Space Between Design Studio to develop a plan for landscape improvements at the shopping center at Hillcrest and Daniel avenues.

Utility replacement planning also will proceed, except for on the storm sewers, public works director Jacob Speer said. The stormwater planning will wait for the landscaping plan.

“The utilities in and around Snider Plaza, most of them are either in the alleys or in Hillcrest itself,” he told council members at a recent work session.

“We don’t have a collective sense of trees out there. They weren’t planted all at the same time; some were live oak, others are maples.” -Robbie Corder

“What we’ve told the engineer to do is, right now, ignore Snider Plaza proper and design the utilities in the alleys and Hillcrest because all of that can be designed regardless of what we do and how we do it in Snider Plaza,” he said.

It’s essential to make sure the utilities accommodate the landscape plan, Speer said.

“A lot of the infrastructure is at the end of its useful life. We’ve experienced some water main breaks in the area in the last few years,” he said.

Max Fuqua, owner of Plaza Health Foods, a health food store that’s been in the plaza since 1947, said he’d like to see more parking in the area.

“We need more parking, more parking enforcement, and more parking for employees,” Fuqua said. “(Increased) online sales make it hard for people to come to a store without parking.”

A new agreement with SPC Park Plaza Partners will allow Snider Plaza tenants to use 50 spaces in the parking garage at Hilltop Plaza at a discounted rate — for 65 cents per hour each.

The garage, at the south end of Snider Plaza, opened in October with the public allowed to use it for free for one hour, then $3 per hour thereafter.

Speer said a parking study around 2007 included options such as using street rightof-way, increasing the number of spaces using a combination of public and private land, and an underground garage.

“That’s a very expensive option,” he said of the garage proposal. “Right now, we’re not ready to move forward with that underground parking garage.”

However, Speer said city leaders hope to design the infrastructure in a way that keeps the option to add an underground parking garage later if they choose to build one.

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