UT announces plans to replace 6 residence halls

UT announces plans to replace 6 residence halls

Posted:
An artist's rendering of the planned housing facilities. (source: University of Tennessee) An artist's rendering of the planned housing facilities. (source: University of Tennessee)
An artist's rendering of the planned housing facilities. (source: University of Tennessee) An artist's rendering of the planned housing facilities. (source: University of Tennessee)

By KAYLA STRAYER
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The University of Tennessee announced a plan Wednesday to replace six residence halls around Presidential Court with seven new modern facilities within five years.

The university says the approximately $234 million project would replace existing high-rise facilities, all built in the 1960s, with three and four floor modern structures in a new village-style community.

Housing and dining revenues would fund the project. Money from the student beautification fee would fund new courtyards, greenways and outdoor amenities.

Officials are calling this an "aggressive approach" to student housing. They say building new dorms will attract future students and help the university become one of the top 25 schools in the nation.

"There's really no place in the country that's doing what the University of Tennessee is doing right now," said Dave Irvin, the associate vice chancellor of facilities services.

The proposed housing redevelopment plan would replace existing high rise facilities.

"The cost to renovate is $70 to $80 thousand a bed. We can build brand new for less than $60 thousand a bed, and have facilities that meet what students want," Irvin said.

The executive director of housing, Frank Cuevas, says one of the goals is to integrate the living spaces with dining, study, common and outdoor areas.

"Our students have told us they prefer more residential feel, obviously it's hard to duplicate that in a high rise," Cuevas said.

If the expanded plan is approved, UT will build six new residence halls and one community and dining facility by 2019.

"We think it's important that we do it quickly, for the good of our students, for their success and retention. To not do that would be an opportunity missed," Irvin said.

The university plans to seek approval from its Board of Trustees and the State Building Commission to expand an already-approved residence hall project that involves the demolition of Shelbourne Towers on 20th Street and the building of a new residence hall on site.

The updated plan came after consultants helped take a closer look at goals and plans for extensive renovations to South Carrick, North Carrick, Humes, Reese, Morrill and the Apartment Residence halls. They determined that it is more cost-effective to build new buildings than to renovate the existing ones.

The project could begin as early as spring 2014 with the demolition of Shelbourne Towers.

UT is currently building its first new residence hall in 43 years. The Fred Brown Residence Hall will house 700 students when it opens next fall.

Earlier this year UT announced plans to demolish Gibbs Hall and build a new residence hall and dining facility and a parking garage on the Stokely Athletics Building site. That project will commence this spring. Goals are to open the new hall by 2016.

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