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.
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The outdated construction methods of the decks have given way to rusted steel and a persistent pothole problem, resulting in repairs totaling approximately $100,000 between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.