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2010 November | Under Construction Forever

Bursting at the Seams: UCF Adding More On-Campus Housing

Posted: November 29th, 2010 | Filed under: Greek Park, Housing | No Comments »

Now with 56,235 enrolled students, it’s no secret the UCF is growing at an extraordinary rate.  On-campus housing has also been growing over the past several years, and that trend does not seem to be changing.  This month, the Board of Trustees approved financing plans to add 750 beds, bringing the total to about 6,900 beds upon completion.  Buildings will be added to the existing Academic Village and Greek Park communities.

Academic Village

Academic Village is a newer community on campus, housing about 1,600 students.  It was completed in 2002.  About $33 Million will be spent to add new buildings to the community, adding 670 beds and a total of 208,000 additional square feet.   Based on current proposals, I prepared a site plan/rendering of where the buildings could be constructed.  In addition, $12.5 Million will be spent to build a 1080-space parking garage adjacent to Libra Drive.  It will be constructed on top of a portion of the existing “B15” surface parking lot.

Greek Park

Approximately 80 beds will be added to Greek Park.  With the demise of Pi Kappa Alpha’s chapter at UCF (and the ensuing demolition of their house in 2008), an empty lot now sits south of the Zeta Tau Alpha House, across the street from Alpha Xi Delta.  The lot is currently being used for student parking.  Proposals indicate that two smaller houses will be built on this site, along with a “Greek Life Center” that will provide shared programming space for chapters that do not have facilities on campus.  It is my understanding that UCF has already selected the sororities that will occupy the two houses (Kappa Kappa Gamma and Chi Omega).

While this expansion isn’t the long-rumored and delayed “Greek Park II” to be build in the northwest corner of campus, it is a step in the right direction to house the numerous chapters that do not currently have housing options.  UCF officials have indicated in the past that Greek Park II will be built when it is “financially feasible” for the university.

The goal for UCF is to have 80% of first-year students living on campus.  In total, these projects will cost UCF about $52 Million, and will be open to students in 2012.  Maybe we’ll hit the 60,000 students by then?

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Guest Post: “Under Construction Forever” continues to provide jobs in weak economy

Posted: November 8th, 2010 | Filed under: Classroom II, Guest Posts, Physical Sciences | No Comments »

This article was submitted by Stephen DeAugustino. Stephen is a Senior at UCF, double-majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Interactive Systems. You can visit his website at http://sjdnews.wordpress.com/

It’s cramped, hot, and uncomfortable in the lobby of UCF’s Facilities and Safety building. A group of men and women in business attire wait patiently in the small room all holding some sort of visual aid for their upcoming presentation. They represent one of the many construction firms in the area, and today they are about to enter their submittal; a chance to win the rights to build on campus. This time around it’s the new Classroom II building, but firms have been trying their luck on campus for some time now.

“We’ve got 23 submittals for the project today” Says Gina Seabrook, a senior computer support specialist at the campuses Offices of Facilities Planning. The number is impressive, but she is not surprised.

Glen Mullins was one of them. Mullins is the Vice President of PPI Construction, a construction manager that has been working on campus since 1995. They’ve built several constructs on campus, including the Recreation & Wellness Center, and are currently finishing up the new Physical Science building. One thing that Mullins has seen over the years is an influx in companies trying to build on campus.

“There’s been increased competition. Construction management companies follow the work, so where there’s work, the companies will show up to try and win that work.”

Seabrook has noticed it as well.

“Maybe before [the rush started] we would get nine to eleven submittals.”

Now the numbers are much larger.

“On one project we got 42 submittals”.

The low economy has effected the construction market badly. Mullins says that the local residential and commercial construction markets have taken huge hits lately. Contractors that usually work in those markets are leaving them to search for work elsewhere, which brings them to UCF. He isn’t the only one that has noticed. Raun Jessee has worked as a general contractor for the past few years in the area, and has done work for UCF before. He’s experienced it first hand.

“I don’t know for sure, but it’s bad. I’ve got guys coming up on my job site begging for work. It’s getting to the point where contractors are doing work for free just to keep their doors open.”

With no one building there isn’t much holding up the construction market, but institutional building plays a big roll. Mullins says the residential and commercial markets have sinusoidal behaviors, with peaks and valleys that tend to follow the economy. However, work on federal or state funded projects, such as schools, is always in demand. Mullins believes that these projects are what hold the market up.

The University of Central Florida falls into this category, and is no exception. According the schools five-year expansion plan, UCF plans to build 41 projects and spend $3,000,000 to do so. According to Mullins, that puts UCF ahead of any school in the state, including UF and USF.

There’s ten, maybe eleven state universities now. They all compete for the same state dollars, so UCF has done a very good job of lobbying people in Tallahassee who do the budgeting and funding to bring those dollars back to central Florida.” Mullins says.

UCF’s influence on the local construction market doesn’t stop there. While corporate entities and managerial positions benefit from the constant construction, it is the manual labor positions that take full advantage. Jessee says the difference is significant, as the campus requires more hands to build than residential or commercial jobs.

“You think of 41 projects, it’s not just 41 contractors. You got 41 general contractors, 41 mechanical contractors, 41 plumbers, 41 dry-wall hangers, framers, roofers. People don’t realize how much goes into one project.”

J.J. Haughland is the president of the Associated Builders and Contractors group at UCF. Haughland also agrees, but thinks the numbers are even more staggering. He believes that over 90% of the opportunities provided by the school are taken advantage of by manual labor.

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