Charlotte Catholic High School is preparing to break ground on a new parking garage as early as December, a move some parents say will improve safety at the school.
The garage is part of a larger plan that includes expansion of the school’s football stadium. Later, the school, at 7702 Pineville-Matthews Road in south Charlotte, hopes to build a fine-arts center.
Patsy DiNome, mother of a freshman at Charlotte Catholic, was one of the parents who helped bring the development plans to fruition through the Charlotte Catholic High School Foundation, a nonprofit organization that collaborates with the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte but operates independently.
DiNome said there are not enough spaces for all students who drive at the school, and many park across Pineville-Matthews Road at Carmel Commons Shopping Center.
“Crossing that street is the biggest hazard for students,” said DiNome. “We’re landlocked, so there’s no other way to go but up. It’s going to be much safer.”
In 2011, the Charlotte Catholic High School Foundation released a proposal, “Crystallizing the Vision, Reaching Our 21st Century Potential,” that outlined projects the foundation would like to see at the school.
Architectural and planning firm Wirth and Associates helped create preliminary plans for the expansions, based on surveys from parents and similar schools nationwide. The company’s recommendations in 2011 included:
A year later, at least one of those recommendations – the parking garage –could break ground as early as December, said David Hains, a spokesman for the Diocese of Charlotte.
“We’re extraordinary excited,” said DiNome.
Preliminary plans for a 250,000-square-foot, four-level parking deck feature three levels above grade and one below, with 692 spaces, Hains said. There will be two independent ramps and two separate entry and exit points; one will exit toward Walsh Boulevard and the other toward Little Avenue.
The garage will be built on the existing parking lot, next to Charlotte Catholic’s stadium.
Charlotte Catholic also is planning to expand the stadium, in part due to its recent classification as a 4A school by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, Hains said. He said the Diocese does not know yet when that work would begin.
N.C. 4A schools are required to have a stadium with a minimum seating capacity of 4,000, Hains said; the current stadium holds about 3,100.
“People really look forward to the sporting events, and this will bring out more folks,” said Janet Phillips, whose youngest daughter is a freshman at Charlotte Catholic.
DiNome said she hopes the school later will be able to move forward with plans for a fine-arts center. Right now, she said, students perform plays and choral concerts in the gym.
“The acoustics are horrible,” she said. “They deserve that space. That’s definitely in the works. The diocese is very much adamant about that coming to fruition.”
Phillips, who has two older children who already have graduated from Charlotte Catholic, said the improvements will make a great school even better.
Still, Phillips acknowledged the construction process might be stressful for students, staff and parents. For instance, the construction will displace about 190 current parking spaces.
Officials are organizing a shuttle bus for students who have to park remotely. Details are not available as to how that service would work, Hains said.
Officials with the Diocese of Charlotte Properties Management Office and Charlotte Catholic High School will solicit construction bids in October, Hains said.
The Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools Board unanimously approved using part of the MACS capital fee for five years to provide the funding for these projects.