$16 million renovation to start in spring
J. Fred Fox
As the walls of the new Fine and Performing Arts Center are going up on Ford Street, construction on another building project on campus is about to begin.
Expansion and remodeling
The Overman Student Center is set for a 30,000 square-foot addition. Some of the existing space will be remodeled.
“We had three important features we wanted to include in the project,” said Jeff Steinmiller, director of Overman Student Center. “(These include) centrally locating student activities offices, adding a whole new ballroom with other meeting-room additions and adding more lounge space to the main floor and lower level.”
The main floor of the addition will consist of a storefront-style space for Student Government Association (SGA), Student Activities Council (SAC), and the Campus Activites Center (CAC). A glass entrance will highlight each of these.
The upper floor will house a new ballroom that will have an audience capacity of 1,000 and a dinner capacity of 675, utilizing new meal prep and serving space.
The new ballroom will have the ability to be split into three smaller rooms as well.
The lower level is gaining lounge space from the relocation of offices both for the University Club and Jungle Lounge.
Some outlets moved
Changes to the existing structure also include moving Commerce Bank to the old ticket office space and the construction of an outdoor terrace that will replace the bank’s current location.
The existing upper level’s meeting rooms will be reconfigured, creating more small room sizes with the goal of a better utilization of space.
“We’re planning on breaking ground spring break of this year (March 2014),” said Lindell Haverstic, project architect for facilities planning. “Completion is expected by the fall semester of 2015.”
Not all ideas included
Students from SGA and other campus organizations expressed interest in many different opportunities that were explored, before they settled on a final concept.
A bowling alley, convenience store, Chick-Fil-A and other proposals were all considered but were deemed not to be financially viable.
Some students say they are concerned that financial viability is being assigned too much importance.
“Student opinion wasn’t engaged enough,” said Rodney Kimlin, SGA treasurer. “There weren’t any forums or surveys for student input. I don’t think a few organization presidents and SGA leadership is representative of the entire student body. There was more outreach by the tobacco task force than for the Overman expansion.”
Some of SGA not happy
Many students aren’t even aware of this project and what it entails, says Joshua Packard.
“With the amount of funding for the project, it does give to the students,” said Packard, SGA public relations director, member of Overman Board of Governors and a senior in graphics communication. “It addresses the needs that were within the limits of the budget.”
The final amount of funding allocated to the project is $16 million. The funding is coming from the $24 million raised from the most recent round of student privilege fee increases.
The other $8 million of that amount is partially funding the Performing Arts Center and eventual Weede Athletic Complex expansion that was announced in spring 2013 and is still in the planning stages.