FORT WORTH — A 500-bed honors residence hall could be the next construction project at the University of North Texas, after the Board of Regents Facilities Committee approved the proposal in a meeting Thursday.
The $37.1 million project will be completed by August 2015 and is in the final phases of planning, pending full board approval today. An architect is scheduled to begin designing the building next month, according to James Maguire, vice chancellor for facilities planning and construction, and chief architect.
In addition to approving the residence hall, the committee also approved an updated institutional master plan and it will be voted on today.
The full board did approve the purchase of 1811 Maple St. in Denton, where the new hall will be constructed. The motion authorized the chancellor to purchase the property, and if necessary, the chancellor could authorize eminent domain.
Previously, UNT planned to finance the project with tuition revenue bonds, but the bonds for all public state schools were not approved by the Texas Legislature this session. Instead, the proposed project will be funded through a revenue financing system, with commercial paper and/or long-term bonds supported by housing fees and other auxiliary revenue.
The need for the residence hall is outlined in an updated university master plan, which expands on the 2005 plan by accommodating for larger projected enrollment growth and the eventual widening of Interstate 35.
“The master plan is primarily a road map to provide some predictability and some pragmatic backing to support the strategic academic initiatives of the university,” Maguire said.
He said the plan also focused on creating an environment that will transform and support students.
The plan outlines critical, medium and long-range plans for the Denton campus, though not on a specific timeline. The goal of the update is to accommodate growth and establish a campus identity, as well as a connectivity throughout campus.
Additionally, a large pedestrian walkway will be built through the “central spine” of campus, Maguire said, and guidelines for buildings, such as the color or brick used on a facade. Throughout the plan, additional parking is called for on the perimeter of the campus.
The critical moves outlined in the plan are the residence hall, as well as a new building for the College of Visual Arts and Design and the completion of the student union update.
In the medium range, officials want to create a housing village where Fouts Field is, and expand the student recreation center. In this range, they hope to create the pedestrian walkway.
In the long range, older buildings will be evaluated for renovation or demolition, expanding housing near Fouts and adding a dining hall there, and expanding the library. Adding parking by the union, and adding a second library space within Sycamore Hall also are included in this range.
Throughout the life of the plan, it calls for the addition of 3,800 beds but has the capacity for up to 5,400 depending on enrollment fluctuation and demand, Maguire said. University leaders hope to house 25 percent of undergraduates on campus.
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.