Article Originally Published by Will Tarpley on North Texas Daily
While most of UNT’s students and faculty have been off-campus, construction continues on the Central Dining Hall and previously delayed demolitions have gone through.
Though hundreds of businesses and organizations have had plans affected by COVID-19, that has not been the case for all the projects at UNT’s Denton campus, according to Dave Reynolds, associate vice president for facilities.
“Most of our projects, there’s not really been much of an impact aside from the dining hall,” Reynolds said. “The construction industry is not seeing logistic supply chain issues. Everyone’s on the alert, but everything’s gone smoothly. We haven’t seen any real issues with our projects.”
The Central Dining Hall is currently being built between the Business Leadership Building and Highland Street Parking Garage along Maple Street. Construction began early last year and “the schedule has not been impacted by COVID-19,” according to Project Lead Jeanine Vail.
However, Daniel Armitage, associate vice president of Student Affairs, said differently.
“Right now, it’s trending to be four weeks behind schedule,” Armitage said. “They’re hoping to pick that up, but it’s also going to depend upon any other problems they may face from supplies due to the pandemic or if there are some labor problems that could slow the project down. [The cafeteria] opens in October. It’ll disrupt schedules and routines, staff won’t have time to learn their tools. Since new facilities attract attention, faculty wouldn’t have time for a soft opening. We’re working through the details to see if we can open the Dining Hall mid-semester to meet the needs of students and the faculty.”
Armitage said he is satisfied with the progress.
“Well, I’m really pleased with the new Dining Hall,” Armitage said. “I’ve been in the building, it’s coming along a bit late … but given the condition of the world, it’s reasonable. It’s a new dining hall and if you walk in it, you can get that feeling.”
As for further projects, a set of new batting cages is in development on the west side of south Bonnie Brae, across from Apogee Stadium.
“We’re doing that batting cage for the athletic program,” Reynolds said. “[We] had some weather delays [and] muddy areas thanks to it being an open field, which slowed things down. It’ll be done before June.”
Reynolds confirmed the destruction of five properties across campus — the former IHOP and Darque Tanning Salon on the corner of North Texas Boulevard and Wilshire Street, the former Residence Hall Association house behind Crumley, a small apartment complex on Avenue A and the Eastern Classroom building on Bernard and Chestnut Streets.
“All of those demolitions have gone well, came down around spring break,” Reynolds said. “All five of those are restored to dirt and turf.”
These areas were previously scheduled to be taken down earlier but experienced delays as UNT had waited to award the contracts for the jobs.
“There’s not a hard plan yet in place for those,” Reynolds said. “The master plan has concepts, but they are purely … conceptual. Nothing is set in stone. Long term, it could be used for something else, but there’s nothing specific for any of them.”
Previously, Reynolds had said that the Avenue A apartments would be “going back to grass” to “give [students] an open space.”
There are also renovations and upgrades in store for various UNT facilities.
“We’re currently working on quite a few other projects,” Reynolds said. “A mechanical electrical utility upgrade to the University Services Building west of Lot 20, we expect to wrap it up by August with no delays. Then there’s another going into Willis Library, it’ll probably be wrapped up early in the fall semester, maybe September or October.”
Reynolds also confirmed the replacement of the sidewalk running beside the Music Building, as well as the beginning of a roof renovation for the College Inn off of North Texas Boulevard.
“It was a 40-year-old sidewalk that had worn out with age — broken concrete and easy to trip on,” he said. “[We] finished it last week, ahead of schedule. As for the roof of College Inn, they’re just getting started. I think that’s going well.”
Looking ahead, Armitage said there have been some further delays.
“Several projects have been delayed — the university is not spending money on projects that could be delayed because of COVID-19,” Armitage said. “We’ve also refunded several million dollars of rent, so we need to find a way to balance the budget to make sure we’re operating in a fiscally responsible way.”
Featured Image: A poster for the new UNT dining hall hangs in front of its unfinished and empty construction site amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 11, 2020. Image by John Anderson
Source: North Texas Daily