Expanded parking slated for Dixie State as university student body continues to grow

ST. GEORGE — Water, housing and downtown parking are some of the things many in St. George wish there was more of.

While the first two desires weren’t the focus of a presentation shared with civic officials and road planners earlier this month, Dixie State University is planning to expand its parking offering – at least as far as its students and faculty are concerned.

Parking below the North Plaza at Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, April 25, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

During a meeting of the Dixie Metropolitan Planning Organization, Paul Morris, DSU’s vice president of administrative affairs, shared the university’s plans for parking and general expansion over the next five-plus years.

These plans include the demolition of two existing buildings for more parking as well as the eventual construction of three multistory parking garages. Additional on-campus housing and academic buildings are also in the works as the university’s student body continues to grow.

Student enrollment at Dixie State was over 12,200 at the beginning on the 2021-22 academic year and is projected to reach over 13,000 in fall 2022.

St. George News spoke with Morris about the presentation he made to the Dixie MPO concerning the university’s future plans.

Expanding campus parking

The first place the public will notice additional parking for the university appear is the north side of Atwood Plaza. Work on converting that side of the property is slated to begin around June/July and result in additional paved parking for students and faculty.

The parking lot south of Dixie State’s Human Performance Center. The parking lot is the future site of a parking garage that will be built to help accommodate the university’s growing student body, St. George, Utah, April 25, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

While the grass on the north side of Atwood Plaza will be replaced with more parking, the grass on the south side of the building, which is in better shape than that presently on the north side, will be preserved, Morris said.

The next parking expansion will involve the demolition of the Edith S. Whitehead Education Building at the corner of 100 South and 900 East in the fall. This is expected to add about 150 parking stalls to the northern side of the university.

The North Plaza, which is also known as the testing center and the former Harmon’s grocery store building, also is slated to be torn down in the near future and would add up to 200 additional parking stalls.

“Our goal is to utilize surface parking for as long as we can,” said Morris, adding that university planners believe the new parking at Atwood Plaza and at the northern end of the school will provide adequate parking for the next three-to-four years.

As those parking lots hit capacity, the institution plans to build three on-campus parking garages. The first will be built on 700 East just south of the Human Performance Center. It will be built on a part of the preexisting parking lot there.

Sign by the gravel parking lot at Dixie State’s Atwood Plaza, St. George, Utah, April 25, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The second parking structure will be built in the parking lot behind the Udvar Hazy Building, with the third taking the spot where the North Plaza currently stands.

“That one’s a few years out – maybe 2026,” Morris said of the future North Plaza parking structure. It will be the last parking structure built due to the university focusing on closer on-campus parking structures first, rather than one that will require students and others to cross 100 South, which separates the North Plaza from the main campus.

Legislative funding, however, will not cover the parking structure expenses, which poses a challenge, Morris said. Because of that, the university has found other ways to fund the projects.

“The growth of the institution will help pay for the parking structures, as will increases to our parking passes,” he said.

Additional on-campus growth and housing

The university will soon see construction begin on its new general classroom building. The 118,000 square-foot building has been fully funded by the Legislature and will run an estimated $56 million to build. Once built, it will host 51 classrooms, 93 faculty offices and seat over 2,200 students.

A view of Campus View Suites I and II and other student housing on the main campus of Dixie State University, St. George, Utah, April 25, 2022 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“A huge thanks from us to the Legislature, especially our local legislators who helped us get this,” Morris said.

A third Campus View Suites complex is also in the works and will replace the aging Shiloh on-campus apartments. The 140,000 square-foot complex will house 500 beds across five stories and is estimated to be completed in June 2025.

Concerning future expansion beyond the main campus in downtown St. George, Morris said it was unlikely at this point.

“We know we’re fairly limited in the property we could acquire around this campus,” he said.

Due to the landlocked nature of the university’s main campus, the institution has since acquired 183-acres of land in the area of River Road and state-Route 7 for future expansion.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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