Aurora, CU talking parking around Fitzsimons light rail stop

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City and university officials are in talks about building a new parking lot near the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and the future Fitzsimons Parkway light rail station, which could solve a host of parking woes. City officials expressed concern about parking for the line at a study session Sept. 9.

One option is for a parking lot or garage to be located on Fitzsimons Parkway, which would be about half a mile north of the campus and near the FasTracks light rail station planned there.

Cars fill up a parking lot, Sept. 16 at the Nine Mile Station in Aurora.  (Danielle Shriver/Aurora Sentinel)
Cars fill up a parking lot, Sept. 16 at the Nine Mile Station in Aurora. (Danielle Shriver/Aurora Sentinel)

That idea could be embraced by hospital staff members and visitors, city officials and residents who all say there is a lack of parking in the area.

In about nine years, the Anschutz Medical Campus alone is estimated to need about 1,000 more parking spaces as the campus and its hospitals and research facilities expand, said Dan Meyers, spokesman for the Anschutz Medical Campus.

“We’re looking at solutions for that challenge, and one of those possibilities is some sort of parking solution along Fitzsimons Parkway,” he said. “It’s only one idea … there’s no blueprint that’s official yet.”

Campus officials are in talks with the Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority, the owner of land around Fitzsimons Parkway, and Aurora staff to find a solution for the parking shortage.

“We need to solve this problem and we can’t just put it off,” Meyers said. As of now, there’s no proposed timeline for when a parking lot would be complete. Officials are also considering whether the parking lot would be used primarily for hospital staff and visitors or public transit users or both.

Currently, there are no plans for parking for light rail users at the Regional Transportation District’s Fitzsimons Parkway station.

Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan said a parking lot along Fitzsimons Parkway is a great idea.

“It’s another one of those critical items that we need to help transform the city,” Hogan said.

That station has the potential to become a new transit-oriented development site with a mix of office space, retail and housing. That makes the need for parking even more critical, he said. And, a new lot might alleviate concerns from residents in the nearby Morris Heights neighborhood that light rail users will be parking on their streets.

There are no estimates on how much a parking structure or lot would cost at the campus, but a structure would likely exponentially cost more than just a lot.

According to Jeffrey Tumlin, author of “Sustainable Transportation Planning,” the cost of land and construction materials for each parking space in a parking structure with multiple levels can cost more than $40,000. That means it could cost up to $10 million to build a 250-space parking structure, depending on cost of land and quality of construction materials.

Costs increase even more for underground lots. Each underground parking space costs between $30,000 and $60,000, according to the book.

Reach reporter Sara Castellanos at [email protected] or 720-449-9036 or [email protected]