Construction crews have finished assembling the supporting structure of the new 325-space parking garage on North Queen Street, marking a milestone for the Ewell Plaza project.

As early as this weekend crews will begin to disassemble and move the skyscraping crane that lowered the many giant concrete slabs into place over the past year, Lancaster Parking Authority executive director Larry Cohen said.

Earlier this week, Cohen was on hand at the site when building contractors fit the last prefabricated slab of concrete into position to complete the Lego-like assembly of the parking authority’s newest garage.

The $34 million parking authority project will ultimately include a new home for the Lancaster Public Library, two retail store spaces, an outdoor event space for the neighboring Holiday Inn hotel and a new public plaza.

City officials are overseeing a public art installation for the parking garage’s façade. Today at 5:30 p.m. at the Ware Center, the project’s artists will present their designs.

The city will put up the designs on its website after the meeting, where residents will be able to choose from a choice of concepts.

The multi-faceted project was supposed to take a year, but its 2020 construction start date was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Rocky earth beneath the new garage also led to engineering challenges, Cohen said. To secure the foundation, the uneven terrain necessitated micropiles – large steel-and-concrete bars drilled into the ground.

“I’ve been in this business for 40 years, and this is the most challenging project I’ve ever been involved in,” Cohen said.

The parking garage itself is not expected to be open to the public until the beginning of 2022, Cohen said. Construction of the outdoor hotel event space will also finish around then, he said.

In the fall of next year, the library space will probably finish up, Cohen said.

Lancaster city officials are overseeing the plaza space. The city is seeking bids for that project right now. They’re due Sept. 8. Construction will likely begin early next year and finish in August 2022, said Cindy McCormick, deputy director of public works.

In the meantime, crews will finish out the construction season installing utilities and elevators for the garage, Cohen said.

Originally budgeted at $29 million, Cohen said the final price tag for the parking authority’s project will likely be about $34 million.

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