UNT project still needs state’s OK

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University works on adjusting application for student union expansion

The University of North Texas experienced a slight snag in the approval process to build its new student union.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board didn’t approve the university’s request in October to move forward with the project, James Maguire, vice chancellor for administrative services and chief architect for the UNT system, told UNT regents during the Nov. 15 meeting.

“I can’t really speak for why they did that,” Maguire said after the meeting.

He said UNT is working on making adjustments to its application and plans to take it back to the coordinating board in December.

Because of UNT’s growing enrollment, which is expected to reach 40,000 in the next five years, the university decided it was time to replace the existing union, which was last renovated in 1973 to accommodate about 17,000 students.

The current union will be gutted, renovated and expanded.

“The existing structure will remain in place,” Maguire said.

The project will cost an estimated $137.1 million, which will come from auxiliary enterprise revenue and student fees, he said.

Students voted in April to increase the union fee to $115 to pay for the new facility. The increased fee will go into effect in fall 2014.

Alexandria Perez, UNT’s student regent, said she thinks the new union will be great. She talked with people at a recent student senate meeting, and the student body supports the project, she said.

The new union will be beneficial and will help with future student retention, Perez said.

UNT hired architectural firm Perkins & Will in August 2011 to create the union design. It is being designed to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“It’s an extraordinary design,” Maguire said.

It’s about 50 percent through the design development phase, he said.

UNT is hoping to start construction next summer.

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is rmehlhaff@dentonrc.com.


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