University Park plans to build an underground parking garage near Snider Plaza

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The City Council of University Park on Jan. 18 approved $3.25 million to buy land near Snider Plaza to build an underground parking garage, helping ease parking problems in the area. The land has not yet been purchased and there is no timeline yet for when the project would be completed.

The city is eyeing property on Haynie Avenue, near the vacant Chase bank building, at the corner of Haynie and Hillcrest.

There is currently a multi-family property on the land, but the owner of the property, SPC Hillcrest LP, plans to tear down the buildings, University Park officials said.

The underground parking garage would be used by Snider Plaza employees and business owners to hopefully free up parking in the shopping center, said Steve Mace, University Park Community Information Officer.

As of January, University Park was given 60 days to make negotiations with SPC Hillcrest LP, according to Mace. Officials are hoping to come to an agreement about the project and have a finalized start date by summer.

Many Snider Plaza shoppers say it is hard to appreciate the shops and restaurants due to the lack of parking. SMU junior Isabella de Cárdenas visits the center almost once a week since it is so close to the SMU campus, but dislikes battling for a parking spot.

“Sometimes I convince myself not to enjoy the shopping and food just because of the parking being such a hassle,” de Cárdenas said.

SMU junior Keyfer Roberts believes the parking garage will boost revenues for Snider Plaza businesses and attract shoppers even during the construction period.

“I have always had a positive experience when I go over to Snider Plaza. Driving in the area has and will always be a hassle, and I’m usually not there too long to get annoyed,” Roberts said.

Lauren Feinstein, an employee of the Snider Plaza boutique Cotton Island, said she would love to have more parking. She is not looking forward to the construction, however, since the store is so close to where the construction will occur, and it may be difficult for shoppers to get to the store.

According to Mace, the funds for the parking garage project were kickstarted in 2009 when SMU paid the city $16 million for alley rights behind the shopping plaza.

This purchase established the SMU Land Sale Reserve. Some of these proceeds went to the construction of the George W. Bush Presidential Center and expansion of the university.

City officials say they are ready to move forward with the parking project. Officials also claim they are willing to talk to Snider Plaza business owners to hear their ideas for the garage once the project moves forward.

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