The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday October 20th

Major Construction Projects Under Way

Ramshead, Union, BCC projects begun.

Bruce Runberg, associate vice chancellor for planning and construction, said that projects on campus will be stepped up this year and that there are more than 90 projects in the works.

Campus construction is gaining steam in part because the Chapel Hill Town Council approved the first projects this summer under the new development ordinance, which gives the town 15 working days to review applications for construction of projects under UNC's Development Plan.

In July, University officials submitted a request to begin work on six projects, including the renovation of Alexander, Connor and Winston residence halls and the new science complex. The town approved all six projects a week later.

Runberg said many of the projects will affect parking and transportation on campus this year, but officials will be posting signs on campus and alerts on UNC's Web site with alternate routes.

Runberg said one of the biggest construction projects this year will be the beginning of the Ramshead parking structure, which will contain a three-level parking deck with 700 parking spaces, a grocery store, a dining facility and a recreation facility. Officials anticipate that Ramshead will be completed in January 2005.

Runberg said that Ramshead will be the linchpin between North and South campuses and that it is part of an effort to make South Campus more appealing.

Dean Bresciani, interim vice chancellor for student affairs, said projects like the new Ramshead building will help transform the image of South Campus. Officials are trying to dispel the stigma of living on South Campus with projects like Ramshead, the new residence halls, a proposed student and academic services building and renovations like landscaping.

"The goal is not to make (South Campus) better than North Campus," he said. "It's to level the playing field."

Runberg said the construction of a new science complex will be another major project on campus this year.

The first phase of the complex, which consists of a new building between Wilson Library and Kenan Labs and an addition to Phillips Hall, is expected to be completed by August 2005.

Another major project under way is the Sonja H. Stone Black Cultural Center on South Road between Coker Hall and the Bell Tower.

The new 44,500 square foot, $9 million center -- funded entirely by private donations -- will include seminar rooms, classrooms, a 10,000-volume specialized library, a 400-seat theater, an art gallery and administrative offices for the center, the Institute of African-American Research and the Upward Bound Project. It is scheduled to open February 2004.

After eight delays in the first phase of the Student Union project -- the opening of the Union addition -- officials evaluated the performance of the contractors and decided it would be best bid out the remaining work to new contractors, Runberg said.

Runberg said Phases II and III -- the renovations of the old Union -- will be packaged as one 10-month project stage than two six-month stages.

Preliminary work is expected to begin after classes end in December, and actual construction will begin in January.

Chancellor James Moeser said officials also probably will move forward this year with some privately funded projects that were delayed last year in order to prevent appearances that the University was spending unwisely during the state's ongoing budget crisis.

Construction of a large video board for Kenan Stadium and lighting the Bell Tower were among the projects delayed.

All projects under way are a part of the Master Plan, a long-term plan for campus growth.

Runberg said the University is actually ahead of schedule because so many of the bond projects were able to begin work earlier than anticipated.

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