Peabody Garage Renovations Create Parking Headache

With 1800 students having arrived or returned to campus during the past two weeks, HBS is suddenly faced with a significant parking problem. While always a tight fit, the combination of the SFP and Peabody Terrace garages, as well as students who commute to campus by public transportation, has traditionally provided a parking space for every student willing to pay for the privilege.

This year, however, is different. Over the summer, the Peabody garage was closed for renovations to the building, as well as to make safety and security improvements. All of this was expected to be complete by September 1, but unexpected structural problems have delayed the reopening of the garage until mid-November.

According to Jim Sarafin, Harvard’s Director of Parking Services, workers removed some of the concrete to examine the rebar that holds the cement slabs together and discovered that some needed to be replaced, specifically those near the entrance and exit of the garage. After consultations with a team of engineers about how best to repair the structure, which is over 30 years old, the decision was made to replace some of the steel and to repour some of the cement slabs. As a result, all of the remaining cars parked in the Peabody lot had to be removed to the SFP lot.

The repairs have put 340 parking spaces, many of which were traditionally allocated to business school students, temporarily out of reach. At Harvard as a whole, there are actually 1,000 parking spaces that are currently unavailable due to construction, further exacerbating the problem.

Because of the parking shortage, the demand for each of the 763 spaces in the SFP garage has increased significantly. The Parking office has implemented a rationing program, doling out spaces to on-campus residents first, then commuters from outside of Cambridge and Allston. This process, however, well before most EC students returned to campus to discover the problem.

Students living off-campus in Cambridge or Allston who are interested in obtaining a parking permit will have to wait until September 17th to find out if they will be successful. “There will definitely be some spaces available on the 17th,” Sarafin said. At press time, however, he could not provide an exact number because of the number of on-campus students still registering.

Students can fill out a parking form and provide vehicle registration information before September 17th by seeing Cathy Francesco in the Aldrich Link. These applications will be considered on September 17th and will prevent the necessity of waiting in line. Anyone who does not receive a permit on the 17th will be put on a waiting list, and that list is expected to clear once the former Peabody parkers leave the SFP garage and go back across the river.

Sarafin says that once the repairs are finished, he expects that everyone who requests a parking permit will be able to receive one. “I know it’s been difficult,” he said, “but I appreciate how understanding the students have been throughout the process.”