By Celine Klosterman
DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University aims to address City of Davenport concerns about a four-story, 200-bed residence hall the university wants to build by fall 2011 to accommodate existing students.
In a July 21 report, city staff recommended denying a request to build the dorm at Lombard and Harrison streets. The decision is slated to go before the Zoning Board of Adjustment on Aug. 4.
University data show the dorm would increase demand for full-time resident parking, according to the report by city planner Ryan Rusnak. “St. Ambrose University has yet to present a comprehensive parking management plan that shows how the neighborhood will be protected,” the document states. Neighbors have voiced concern about on-street parking congestion.
St. Ambrose had asked for permits to build two new parking lots: 23 spaces west of Davis Hall on campus and 108 spaces on property the university bought near St. Vincent Center, headquarters for the Davenport Diocese. The smaller lot’s purpose was partly to offer more parking for female residents; the larger lot would make up for spaces lost while the new hall is built, according to St. Ambrose.
But in June, city staff recommended tabling the requests for those lots until St. Ambrose conducts its master plan study, which will examine parking, beginning later this year.
Earlier this month, the university withdrew its request to create more parking spaces. It may seek permission for the smaller lot later, said Mike Poster, St. Ambrose’s vice president for finance.
“We agreed to do a parking study during our annual facilities planning,” he said. “That will still give us enough time to build additional parking by fall 2011.”
St. Ambrose already has a plan to make up for spaces lost during construction of the new hall that doesn’t require building a lot near St. Vincent Center. Sixty faculty/staff spaces will be available at the new health sciences center being completed at Genesis Medical Center in west Davenport, so 60 faculty/staff spaces near the Rogalski Center on campus will be reassigned for resident students.
Also, about 30 staff spaces north of Davis Hall will move to the university’s Professional Arts building on Brady and Locust streets near campus. That relocation will open up more spaces on campus for students.
Rusnak’s report said officials look forward to working with the university on a comprehensive parking plan and are willing to assist with a possible parking ramp. Poster said, “We’re willing to have the parking ramp conversation, but parking decks are very expensive to build.” He said the cost for one parking space would be $10,000 to $15,000, compared to $3,000 for each non-parking-ramp space. A parking deck also poses security concerns, he said, and neighbors wouldn’t appreciate living across from one.
Alternately, Poster said people have raised the idea of not allowing first-year students to have cars on campus. “But we find many freshmen need cars to get to jobs,” he said.
Besides sharing parking concerns in evaluating the request for a dorm, city staff also brought up the impact of St. Ambrose growth. “Staff is confident that the building will be attractive and complement the existing campus, but the building’s impact upon the neighborhood has not been addressed,” Rusnak wrote.
Poster said the dorm would allow more students to live on campus instead of in nearby rental properties. Neighbors have complained about partying and rowdy behavior from students living off-campus.
About 200 students wanted to live on campus this coming year but cannot, Poster said. Seventy percent of the new hall’s residents would be second-year students, and 30 percent would be third-year students, according to current plans.
He said St. Ambrose and city representatives met after Rusnak’s report was issued last week. “We’re going to work on some things,” Poster said.