In 2005, Mecklenburg County is scheduled to open its new courts parking facility, at the corner of 4
th and McDowell Streets in Charlotte's Government District. The new parking deck will serve the new Mecklenburg County Courthouse, currently under construction across the 4
th and McDowell intersection from the parking deck site. The courthouse construction is taking place on the site of the old courts parking facility, demolished in early 2003 to make way for the project.
The new eight-level garage will accommodate 1,100 – 1,200 vehicles, more than double the amount provided in the old deck. The new structure is designed to blend in with the architecture of the new courthouse and emphasize connectivity between the two. The new deck will also maximize traffic flow in and out of the garage, with features to eliminate queuing in a high traffic area, such as that along 4
th or McDowell Streets. Motorists will have easy entry from Interstate 277, Fourth Street or East Trade Street. There will be separate entrances for court employees and visitors, with designated parking for jurors.
The deck design calls for 12,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, and a tree-lined outdoor plaza facing the new courthouse. The plaza will contain benches, tables and chairs, in hopes of creating a comfortable location for retail patrons to gather. The upper floors of the parking deck will be constructed using design techniques to maximize the safety and comfort of pedestrians. That includes vehicle ramps that do not interrupt pedestrians' line of sight on any floor of the deck
The intersection at Fourth and McDowell Streets will also be redesigned and reconstructed to facilitate movement of visitors across the street from the garage to the courthouse. The redesign includes a new surface with walking paths, tighter turning circles to reduce the length of crosswalks, and new crossing lights, all with pedestrian safety and comfort at the forefront.
Construction on the new courts parking deck is scheduled for completion in 2005, with the courthouse expected to open in 2005. The parking deck was designed by architectural design firm The Freelon Group, with assistance from Charlotte urban designer Deborah Ryan. Design was conducted with input from the Courthouse Task Force, a group of representatives from agencies that utilize Mecklenburg County's court facilities.