Campus News

Student Center Satellite to re-open with Starbucks, more

While a portion of the Student Center Satellite is scheduled to re-open Monday, the entire structure will have a grand re-opening for Spring 2019. | Corbin Ayres/The Cougar

Following a semester-long closure for repairs, the Student Center Satellite is scheduled for a partial re-opening Monday, bringing the return of the TV room, Games room, Starbucks, Smoothie King and Market.

The Student Center Satellite has been closed due to damages from Hurricane Harvey, and maintenance is expected to be ongoing on the main food court area until the anticipated grand re-opening in January 2019, said Eve Esch, director of Student Centers.

“So what happened after Harvey     the whole thing flooded     and so we were able to reopen the food court in the spring, but we didn’t open the Starbucks and Smoothie King,” Esch said. “They’ve been closed since Hurricane Harvey, and they are ready now because they’ve been down the whole time.”

The University wanted to ensure at least part of the Satellite was open prior to finals, so students in the area had options closer to their classes, Esch said. For now, only the South end of the building will be re-opened, including the restrooms, and there will be a grand re-opening of the entire Student Center Satellite in January, she said.

“We mitigated and did some damage control after Harvey, and just to provide some food service, we re-opened it without redoing everything completely, but that set that area back a little bit,” Esch said. “Since we were doing service out there, we couldn’t tear everything out and redo it.”

UH began repairing the food court area in the Satellite over the summer, Esch said. A majority of the food services will look similar to how they did before Hurricane Harvey, she said.

“The Starbucks will have a new look to it. Starbucks, the brand, they like to refresh it and keep their look up to date,” Esch said. “It will look slightly different from the previous version of the Starbucks.”

The Smoothie King will look almost identical to how it looked before Harvey, but all of the equipment has been replaced and everything     including the counter-tops and paint     has been redone, Esch said.

Students, particularly those with classes on the north side of campus, have been lost without the Satellite.

“I would go almost every day, going to (The Market) or grabbing a quick bite to eat in between classes, and I used everything but the game room,” said mechanical engineering senior Gene Beche. “I’m definitely happy it’s reopening, but I wish it was fully re-opening.”

Since the front portion of The Market is a window instead of walls, the establishment required less work than the others in the Satellite whose walls needed to be torn down and replaced, Esch said. Overall, the south side of the Satellite took about 15 months to complete, she said.

“The Satellite was in between my classes and my dorm so it was always super convenient,” Beche said.

Since the food court was open for four months in the spring, UH had to wait until the summer to start on the mill-work.

Mill-work is the process of tearing down the wall to the studs and replacing the materials, because of the tendency of wood to grow mold when exposed to water for extended period of times, Esch said. This includes rebuilding all of the counter-tops and structure impacted by the flooding, she said.

“Whenever you have flooding, it sort of seeps up into wood or behind it. There’s space between what you see and space between the next wall, and so that’s a great place for things like mold to grow,” Esch said. “Essentially, you have to tear it down to the studs, start all over and build it up from there.”

In addition to these repairs, furniture and carpet have been replaced as needed, and all of the walls in the Satellite have gotten a fresh coat of paint, Esch said.

“The TV lounge has got all new carpet, all new furniture, so its a great spot for folks to be able to eat and study,” Esch said. “The pool tables, the games room area also got all new carpeting. We went ahead and re-felted the tables in the game room, so they’ve got all brand new surfaces to play on.”

News of the re-opening has been somewhat limited, as students like political science junior Alex Zaibaq did not realize any portion of the Satellite would be re-opening within this semester.

“I would use the Indian restaurant, the sushi place, and Chick-Fil-A,” Zaibaq said. “I would go there pretty often, because I’d usually have class around there. I’ve definitely missed it, it’s a good place to study, too.”

The Satellite also had a few options that students could not get anywhere else on campus, drawing more students to make the trek across campus for food options like Taco Bell.

“It was located near one of my three classes, but I’d often go out of my way to head to the Satellite,” said Student Government Association Vice President Davis Darusman. “I just got food, I never really utilized that area to hang out or study because seats over there seemed scarce enough and I didn’t want to take one from a starving student looking everywhere for a table.”

Like Darusman, many students were upset to hear of the Satellite’s closure after the building had previously been closed until the spring semester following Harvey. Now that the grand re-opening of the Satellite is official, students are preparing to indulge in food options closer to their classes.

“I went down to the Satellite at least twice a week,” Darusman said. “To be honest, I miss my guilty pleasure of Taco Bell. As a part of UH Dining, they were never allowed to sell non-Coca Cola products which really ruined my Baja Blast cravings, though.”

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