The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
College campus is construction zone
BY LINDLEY ESTES
For the 981 freshmen at the University of Mary Washington, the campus they’re settling into now will have a different look by the time they graduate.
UMW is in the midst of extensive renovation and construction projects at the Fredericksburg campus.
Randolph and Mason residence halls reopened on Wednesday for incoming students after a nearly two-year, $33 million renovation.
Major changes to those buildings include the installation of elevators and air-conditioning systems, improvement of study lounges and the addition of four apartments for members of faculty and staff, said Marty Morrison, the university’s public information director.
TECH CENTER UNDER WAY
Work on the Information Technology and Convergence Center near the Simpson Library began in June and is to be completed by fall 2014.
The building will serve as an “academic commons,” housing a data center, classrooms, offices, a digital theater, media labs, a café and numerous collaboration areas. The center will connect to Simpson Library through the third floor.
Morrison said that though the exterior of the tech building will resemble the rest of the campus, the interior will have “a 21st-century look and function.”
Rick Pearce, UMW’s vice president for administration and finance, said construction of the tech center will alter foot traffic on campus walk and there may be some changes in College Avenue traffic patterns at times.
“We want to make sure it has the least impact on our neighbors,” he said.
The nearly $26 million tech center building will include 76,718 square feet in four stories.
Hotel project AHEAD
This fall, construction will begin on the Hyatt Place Hotel adjacent to Giant supermarket in Eagle Village.
The hotel will include 93 studio rooms or suites as well as several meeting and conference rooms available for public rental.
Hyatt Place guests will have 24-hour food and beverage service, an indoor pool and a fitness center. The hotel, slated to open in fall 2013, will also have about 1,600 square feet of retail space.
Morrison said Hyatt Place is the first project in the state to benefit from the new Virginia Tourism Development Financing program, which provides economic incentives to developers of projects that benefit tourism and business.
The project is being developed by the nonprofit UMW Foundation, which has partnered with the city of Fredericksburg and Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority.
Over the next decade, the hotel is expected to generate $3.27 million in tax revenue, Morrison said.
CAMPUS CENTER coming
UMW will begin construction of a new campus center next summer that is scheduled to open for fall 2015. The center will face Ball Circle on the spot where Chandler Hall now stands.
The center “will bring a variety of student-life functions under one roof and will serve as the university’s living room,” Morrison said.
The $43 million, 108,000-square-foot campus center will feature a dining hall, food court, retail store, a ballroom, meeting spaces, student lounge areas and offices for student clubs and organizations.
The center will extend into the parking lot behind Chandler Hall on College Avenue.
Pearce said two houses owned by the UMW Foundation will be demolished to build a new parking lot with 48 spaces on Gordon Street next to the Pizza Hut.
Parking has been an issue in College Heights for students and residents, Pearce said. UMW hopes the new lot will ease that problem.
Demolishing Chandler Hall to build the campus center will displace the business administration and psychology departments.
Those departments will move to Mercer Hall and the Woodard Campus Center. Renovations for those moves will begin next spring and will cost roughly $14 million.
Seacobeck Hall, the university’s main dining hall, will be re-purposed, but a decision hasn’t been made yet on how, Pearce said.
As part of President Rick Hurley’s master plan for the Fredericksburg campus, renovations have been completed in recent years on Lee Hall, which houses administrative functions including the bookstore, and Monroe Hall, an academic building.
The UMW Foundation also built the Eagle Landing student housing complex.
Hurley also wants to build a performing arts center and renovate the Battlefield Athletic Complex on Hanover Street, but those plans aren’t finalized, Pearce said.
UMW officials are close to finishing the renovation plan, which is to be presented to the board of visitors in November, he said.
Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976