OHARE town hall discusses future residential college construction

Construction in the West End neighborhood will continue until 2024 and will conclude with the construction of a sixth residential college.

Screenshot+of+the+West+End+Neighborhood+Town+Hall+speakers%2C+taken+on+Sept.+7%2C+2021.+%28Hustler+Staff%2FSally+Johnson%29

Screenshot of the West End Neighborhood Town Hall speakers, taken on Sept. 7, 2021. (Hustler Staff/Sally Johnson)

Sally Johnson, News Copy Editor

On Sept. 7, the Office of Housing and Residential Experience (OHARE) held a virtual town hall to discuss the ongoing construction in the West End neighborhood. The event was hosted by Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Facilities Officer Michael Perez and featured Jim Kramka, senior director of housing operations, Robert Grummon, construction project manager and Sean Farrell, Layton Construction manager.

Perez stated that the town hall’s purpose was to create dialogue with students who may be affected by the construction in the West End neighborhood.

“We totally understand that construction activities pose various levels of inconvenience,” Perez said. “We do our best to minimize this inconvenience and have found that the dialogue that we’ve created through these town halls with you, our students, about our construction has been extremely and mutually beneficial.”

Perez also recognized Layton Construction as an important contributor to the West End construction projects. 

“[Layton is] highly proactive in considering ways to minimize disruption, and they possess a strong desire to create, along with us, a positive collegiate experience for you, our students, even in spite of all this construction,” Perez said.

Per Perez, construction in the West End neighborhood is part of the FutureVU initiative and aims to give the neighborhood a more “park-like feel.” Previous additions to the West End neighborhood include retaining walls, pedestrian walkways and landscaping.

“The goal of this program is to beautify, enhance and make more inclusive and accessible this neighborhood and our beautiful campus,” Perez said.

Perez stated that the construction of residential colleges in the West End neighborhood—which began in 2016 with the construction of E. Bronson Ingram College—will end in 2024 with the construction of a currently unnamed Residential College C. Grummon added that Rothschild College, named for Marieke and Jeff Rothschild, is currently under construction and will be completed in June 2022. 

Grummon also spoke about construction procedures in the West End neighborhood. Construction hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. CDT Monday through Friday and occasionally on Saturday, per Grummon.

“We try to be very aware of what’s going on on campus and we tailor our work hours and our work days occasionally around what’s going on on campus,” Grummon said.

Grummon added that sound-measuring devices are employed to ensure that—whenever possible—construction noises are no louder than street traffic.

“Your safety and ability to study are paramount to the success of these projects,” Grummon said.

Per Grummon, the old Zeta Tau Alpha house —located at 118 24th Avenue S.—will be demolished on Sept. 17, 2021, to make space for Residential College C.

Kramka said that Rothschild College and Residential College C will include a mixture of singles, doubles and suites. He added that the suites will house four students each.

“[The suites] are anywhere from about 20 to 25 percent of the beds or spaces we have in the colleges,” Kramka said.