City board reviewing University of Providence’s new student center proposal

Plans for the new student center at the University of Providence are moving forward and the project goes before the city’s Design Review Board on Monday.

The new University Center is located within the 4.3 acre campus, on the west side where the 20th Street South parking lot currently sits.

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The university is proposing construction of a new 36,000 square foot building. It will include an open air plaza that will lead to an art gallery and a welcome center, according to the staff report. The second level will include a sky bridge connecting the north part of the building to the south.

City staff is recommending approval of the proposal.

The property is zoned Public Lands and Institutional, so there are no issues with the proposed use of the building, according to city staff.

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The proposal meets all of the city’s guidelines and standards for new construction with one exception. The standards include a requirement that a primary entry face a public street, in this case 20th Street South. Instead, all entries either face the interior of the open air plaza underneath the sky bridge or the interior of the campus, according to the staff report.

In their report, staff write that “providing a sidewalk to the open air plaza where the entries are located serves the spirit of the standard.”

Staff is also supporting a reduction in parking spaces in favor of increased density on the campus. The new building is being proposed on an existing parking lot, meaning the loss of 127 existing parking spots. The total number of parking spots on campus is 819 and since there were only 600 parking passes distributed for faculty, staff and students, staff believes there will still be adequate parking without impacting the adjoining neighborhoods.

The city’s landscaping code requires a minimum of 15 percent of the gross property area to be designated as interior landscaping and the university’s proposal meets that standard. The code also requires one tree and seven shrubs be planted and maintained per 400 square feet of interior landscaping. The university has proposed 11 boulevard trees, 47 interior trees 390 shrubs and several perennial plantings, exceeding the code requirements, according to the staff report.