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Parking Authority to Close Ferren, Wolfson Decks

The Ferren and Wolfson parking decks decks, are to be permanently closed as of March 2013 and replaced by the new Health and Wellness Plaza parking deck.

Jurors, daily workers and visitors to the downtown will soon have to relocate their parking spaces, with the coming closure of the Ferren Deck.

Both sides of the Ferren Deck - the monthly deck, accessed from Paterson Street, and the daily deck, which has an entrance on Church Street - are to be slowly closed with daily parking shutting down as of Jan. 7, and monthly parking ceasing as of Jan. 14.

During the closure, the deck will remain open to pedestrian traffic, according to the New Brunswick Parking Authority, and as of March 2, the deck will close entirely and permanently.

Ferren daily and monthly parkers are asked to use the deck at the adjacent Health and Wellness Plaza, a 1,200 spot deck that opened its doors in November.

To sweeten the move for monthly parking customers, the Parking authority is offering discounted parking rates for the first year, free two-week memberships to the Robert Wood Johnson Fitness and Wellness Center and $5 coupons to put toward The Fresh Grocer, both of which are located within the plaza.

For commuters, construction will begin within the next year on a walkway from the plaza to the eastbound platform of the train station.

Nearby, the Wolfson deck, which primarily houses UMDNJ and county workers on monthly parking arrangements will also soon shut down.

UMDNJ staff will be asked to park at the Morris Street parking deck, and county employees will park at the Health and Wellness Plaza deck.

A block over, a new parking deck at the Gateway Building has an additional 675 spots available for use.

History

The Ferren deck opened in the early 1970's as a two-story garage, and was expanded in the 1980's with the construction of the Ferren Mall, according to Mitch Karon, Executive Director of the New Brunswick Parking Authority.

Ferren currently has approximately 600 monthly parking spots and serves about 500 daily parkers each day, Karon said.

Both the Wolfson and Ferren decks are safe to use, but they are old, Karon said.

Knowing that the decks were marked for redevelopment since the late 1990's, the parking authority has held off on doing any major restoration or repairs on them, he said.

The outdated construction methods of the decks have given way to rusted steel and a persistent pothole problem, resulting in repairs totaling approximately $100,000 between the two garages over the last few years, Karon said.

Newer construction methods in newer decks has been more durable, and stands up better to daily use, he said.

City spokesman Russell Marchetta said the anticipated redevelopment planned for the Ferren Deck is still in the planning phases, as a tenant for the spot has yet to be found. In 2008, talks with a potential tenant were looking up, and then fell through when the economy went bad, Marchetta said.

The new look for Ferren will include apartment, office and commercial spaces, Marchetta said.

Matthew Brian Hersh December 06, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Why are they closing the decks? It seems that Ferren will one day be redeveloped, but if nothing's happening now and the decks are safe, I don't understand why they're actually closing it.
Rickyrab December 06, 2012 at 10:13 PM
While I don't see much use for Ferren as it is, and while closing it to cars seems to make sense, is it a good idea to close it to people if it's not structurally ruined? On the other hand, there's the businesspeople vs. homeless people dilemma to deal with.
Rickyrab December 06, 2012 at 10:17 PM
I have already used the new deck, which seems pretty usable, and I also noticed that there were few users above the fourth (actually, second) floor (this deck is above a two-story commercial development). It's a nine floor deck. The new Gateway deck is also hungry for users. So something needs to be done about the excess parking space, and developers must be found or New Brunswick/DEVCO will be faced with either an urban ruin or a couple of white elephants (or perhaps both) in its midst.
Rev. Hartmut Kramer-Mills December 09, 2012 at 06:18 PM
However justifiable the reasons may be for closing the Wolfson parking deck, it leaves a group of users stranded that has not been mentioned yet: the volunteers and members of the surrounding houses of worship. The Wolfson deck has been used in particular by Poile Zedek Synagogue, First Reformed Church, the Methodist Church and Christ Episcopal Church. The generous city policy of making the deck accessible free of charge in the evenings and during weekends has supported flourishing congregational life. True, streetside parking is also free during these times. But given the successful entertainment and restaurant industry, those attending our houses of worship always felt relief that they had the Wolfson deck to rely on. I wished someone could point out an alternative for this particular group of people.
Rickyrab December 20, 2012 at 01:23 AM
So, nu, come to the meetings. They tend to be on either the third or fourth Wednesday of the month, at the Vue/Gateway Parking Deck building, on the 6th floor, at 5 pm.

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