New campus additions approved

The Board of Regents has approved the construction of two residential halls and a dining hall to help UH move forward in its mission to become less of a commuter school.

The plan calls for the construction of Cougar Village II, a new sophomore residential hall and the West Dining hall that are projected to open in fall 2013.

The sophomore hall will be constructed on the same ground where the current Cougar Place stands.

“They’ll be tearing down Cougar Place in September after summer school is over,” said Mike Lawrence, interim Vice Chancellor/Vice President for Student Affairs.

Plans for the sophomore hall calls for the housing of roughly 800 beds.

The existing Cougar Village will be at or close to 100 percent occupancy in the coming fall, Lawrence said.

The construction of Cougar Village II will help ease the congestion that the University will face if UH wants to meet the goal of housing more students and to mandate on campus living for freshmen.

Cougar Village II will be constructed by the current Cougar Village and will house approximately 1,100 beds.

“With residential facilities, you always have to consider providing sufficient dining support, so if residential makes a step forward, dining will have to follow; it is the only way to really support the program,” said Maria Honey, marketing director for University Services.

“When Cougar Village was built, we knew that the existing (dining) facilities could not support the additional 1,000 students living on campus, so that is why Fresh Food Company came online,” Honey said.

With UH now looking at doing the second phase of Cougar Village with another 1,000 beds and with the sophomore housing, the college has to plan two or three years in advance, Honey said.

The expansion of residential halls called for the construction of the new dining hall set to open on the west side of campus.

Once the West Cafeteria is built and ready for use, the Oberholtzer cafeteria will be shut down and used for programming space, Lawrence said.

In an effort to be more sustainable and efficient, the new dining hall will be designed and built to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver standards.

“It will be environmentally safe and constructed with environmentally positive sides,” Lawrence said. “The new cafeteria will be built using recycled material and things of that nature.”

Funding would come from bonds that will be issued. Over time, as occupancy in the new halls goes up, funding will start to flow in from the fees paid by the residents. This will save students from facing drastic increases in fees when it comes to funding the new projects, Lawrence said.

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