It’s not over yet
A transformation of scenery will be affecting UW-Eau Claire’s upper campus in the next two to four years, not unlike the current construction on lower campus.
A new residence hall is expected to be placed between Horan and Governors Halls, wiping out some parking space on upper campus as well as the tennis courts. Construction could start as early as September 2014.
Housing Director Chuck Major said that the proposed addition is necessary and will bring underclassmen closer together.
“The ideal is to have everyone on campus … it’s just more convenient,” said Major. “Especially for freshmen to get out of the hotels, and get closer to all the action.”
Major said the new complex will house approximately 350 students, comparable in size to Bridgman or Murray Hall. Early estimates have the project’s cost at $33 million.
That $33 million will be coming directly out of students’ pockets. The funding will come from the students who live on upper campus.
“We (the university) are going to start collecting funds during the construction phase … and so it could be that some juniors or seniors that are here in the dorms will have to pay for the building without ever using it,” Major said.
That doesn’t sit well with some of the students now living in the dorms.
Freshman secondary education major Mariah Weinberger doesn’t agree with having to pay for something she may not end up using.
“I didn’t even know this was happening … if I do live in the dorms when this construction begins, it doesn’t make sense for me to pay for something I’m not going to use just because I live on upper campus,” Weinberger said.
Even though the hall most likely will not be operational and able to house students until fall 2016, plans to level the tennis courts bothersome residents.
Senior Blugold men’s tennis player Ben Robertson has lived in Horan Hall since coming to Eau Claire and said he will definitely miss the courts he has played on throughout his college career.
“This is my fourth year here, so I look out the window and I always see it,” Robertson said. “To me, those tennis courts along with the basketball courts and Towers Field are the hub of upper campus. It connects everyone, and I’ll miss it when it’s gone.”
On the other side of the spectrum, fellow senior tennis player Taylor Heltne said being able to house more students outweigh the emotional ties.
“I definitely think that its always a good thing to be able to expand your campus and to promote what this campus offers,” Heltne said. “It’s hard to do that and have unity when so many students live off campus.”
The new dorm, which will remain unnamed until its completion, will be Eau Claire’s first new dormitory since Chancellors Hall was built in 2000.
Major said the newest addition will not interfere with the feeling of upper campus, and to the contrary, it may actually improve it.
“The university plotted it there with the idea that it would still try and make it a warming area, more of a residential area,” Major said. “It won’t be urban sprawl up there; there is a planned courtyard and a welcoming path from the hill.”
This project isn’t the only one that the university has planned to send through to the Board of Regents regarding new buildings. A combination of a new and improved Fine Arts Center along with another new dorm hall has been proposed.
“It would be quite the crown jewel,” Major said.
Major added that the buildings, projected at $90 million, would be placed near Phoenix Park.
The fate of the project will be decided in October when the Board of Regents reviews the university contributions.