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Renovations set to begin for UNC Student Union

With less space in the Student Union available to reserve for student groups during upcoming renovations, Union officials said they are doing their best to accommodate all requests for meeting space.

Portions of the Union, such as the east wing and underground computer lab, have recently been closed down to begin the first phase of renovation, which will officially begin Sept. 10.

Renovation plans include installing a Wendy’s restaurant, adding more meeting rooms and bringing the entire east wing up to code.

“We don’t think there’s going to be any problems that we can’t solve,” said Tony Patterson, senior associate director for student life and activities.

Approval for a fee increase that would fund a second round of renovations was denied last spring in a referendum to the entire student body.

If the referendum had passed, it would have cost students $16 in fees every year for 30 years to fund an $11 million renovation to the Union’s bottom floor.

Don Luse, director of the Carolina Union, said the second phase of renovations might be reconsidered next year after he confers with the Union’s board of directors.

Patterson said the Union will utilize a Twitter account and various marketing strategies to make sure students are informed about what’s open during the first phase of renovation, as well as what changes have occurred.

Scott Hudson, senior associate director for operations for the Union, said that Student Television and WXYC radio station are still in their rooms in the east wing, and that the Union staff are working around them for now.

Patterson said Union officials will do anything they can to help students find space.

The east wing of the Union hasn’t been renovated or brought up to code since it was built in the 1980s, Hudson said.

He said the bathrooms in the east wing will also be brought up to the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, adding that the plans also include the installation of a gender-neutral bathroom.

Sprinkler systems in every room will also make the building safer, he said.

Patterson said the plan should be completed by August 2012, with portions of the renovated section available by the middle of spring semester.

“We are trying to plan work in such a way that will minimize the impact on students,” he said.

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