New student housing complex holds groundbreaking ceremony

City officials and housing project managers talked parking at Wednesday’s “groundbreaking” for BlueStone Lofts, UMD’s new off-campus housing. With little more than half a parking space per apartment at BlueStone, nearby residents worry that new off-campus housing could cause parking overflows onto their neighborhood streets.

They’ve proposed a new residential parking permit that could restrict UMD students parking off campus.

But “the residents shouldn’t be worried,” said Mark Lambert, the developer behind the lofts.

“There’s a contingency for a parking garage if more students bring cars than expected,” said Keith Hamre, director of city planning. “But in the meantime we’re encouraging multi-modal transportation for students.”

Hamre suggested the current number of parking spaces at BlueStone, 160 of them for the 300 apartments planned to occur, would be more than enough to compensate for the students with cars.

“We construct with the ebb and flow of the traffic,” said Kelly Dorn, the general contractor in charge of construction. “Many students don’t bring their cars with them to school.”

Dorn Construction has collaborated in a number of projects around the Twin Cities campus, and is contracted to complete the development of the lofts by fall 2013.

“It’s been our experience at the Twin Cities campus that a half-stall per bedroom has sustained parking needs,” Dorn said. “That number hasn’t significantly congested traffic, and we haven’t heard any complaints so far.”

Still, this hasn’t stopped the proposed parking permit.

Set to implement as early as November, the legislation would allow parking only for residents within the proposed zone. Moreover, a resident would have to park within 500 feet of his or her residence.

“The permit is up to Duluth citizens, but we have planned to ensure the inclusion of all necessary accommodations for students who intend to live at BlueStone,” Lambert said. “If the later circumstances call for more parking, then we’ll add more parking.”


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