MANCHESTER — Parking access in the Millyard is expanding this week with the opening of the Southern New Hampshire University garage on South Commercial Street.

The six-story garage at 55 S. Commercial St. has a capacity to hold 1,700 vehicles in an area of the city where parking is limited.

SNHU held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the garage Monday morning.

“We’re thrilled to officially open our new parking garage, which will provide a parking solution for SNHU employees and the city of Manchester,” said Paul LeBlanc, president and CEO of SNHU. “This parking garage is the first new building in the Millyard in 122 years and reaffirms our commitment to the city of Manchester.”

The garage is next to SNHU’s Millyard facilities, just north of Northeast Delta Dental Stadium and south of Granite Street.

The garage will serve its first customers on Tuesday, said Lauren Keane, SNHU assistant vice president for communications. SNHU plans to phase in use of the garage, starting with about 300 employees on Tuesday and gradually expanding over the next few weeks.

Keane said phasing in use of the new garage will allow SNHU and the city to gauge the impact additional traffic has on the area, which is accessible only from Granite Street.

In response to concerns over possible increases in traffic on South Commercial Street, city aldermen voted last month to apply for federal grant funds for a possible second egress for the area.

“While the garage developer, SNHU and the Department of Public Works will all be completing mitigation efforts to help improve the flow of traffic, it is essential to find a second egress out of South Commercial Street,” Mayor Joyce Craig told aldermen at the time. 

The city is applying for a federal Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grant

SNHU has about 1,700 employees working in the Millyard in shifts that vary from early morning to midnight.

“Those are the things that we want to monitor over the next few weeks,” Keane said.

Construction on the project took less than two years. SNHU planned to lease the garage from the Lansing Melbourne Group, the developer that built the structure.

Kevin Sheppard, director of public works for the city of Manchester, said parking throughout the Millyard is tight and having the additional spaces in the new garage will help throughout the city.

“I think it’s great. This can open up other areas,” Sheppard said Monday. “SNHU employees have been parking in satellite lots around Manchester. Obviously, a 1,700-car garage opening up is going to open up other parts of the Millyard area and downtown, which will be good for the city.”