A demolition crew began tearing down two old houses on Delaware Avenue on Friday to make room for the city of Newark to expand a parking lot.

The houses, most recently used as University of Delaware offices, were located next to the 195-space lot behind the Main Street Galleria. In the coming weeks, the city will pave over the site, adding 45 new parking spaces to the lot.

According to local historian Jim Jones, one of the houses was built in the 1920s, and the other was built prior to 1922, though the exact year is unknown. In the 1930s and 1940s, the residences were rented by UD professors, and they later served as off-campus student housing. By the 1970s, they were being used as offices for various UD departments.

The city bought the property from UD for $175,000 several years ago. The $300,000 expansion project will pay for itself in just a few years, with the new spaces generating an estimated $93,000 each year.

The addition to the lot will help mitigate some of the parking that will be lost due to construction.

At the height of the Main Street project this fall, construction will block 97 on-street parking spaces. Meanwhile, the construction of Lang Development Group’s hotel will close part of the lot behind the Green Mansion and the former Abbott’s Shoe Repair.

Meanwhile, city officials are expected to remove the gates on the Galleria lot and implement a controversial metered parking system within the next couple weeks.

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