A new dining facility scheduled to be built inside the student parking lot in front of the Estill Building will provide dining on the south side of the campus.
Associate Vice President for Finance and Operations Jacque Gilliam said construction has begun during the spring semester to allow time to finish the project.
“We can’t finish it during the summer,” Gilliam said. “We’re hoping to have it done by the end of October.”
Gilliam said the location was chosen by the chancellor of the Board of Regents, and will feature a Pizza Hut, Montagues and Java City along with a restaurant called Home Zone that will sell boxed lunches to accommodate students with board plan dining arrangements.
Vice President of Finance and Operations Jack Parker said the university has been planning the new facility for a while.
“We took it to the Board of Regents last year and it formally approved for construction the contract award Feb. 27 or 28 during the quarterly meeting,” Parker said.
The new facility will be 5,000 square feet and include kitchen, dining and storage areas, and will have outside dining tables.
“We’re trying to make something available for commuters on this side of the campus,” Gilliam said.
The budget for the project is $2 million based on plans from the construction company. Gilliam said when finished the building will be brick with “lots of glass.”
Gilliam said rumors that the new facility would be in the former White Hall cafeteria are inaccurate and were “never in the plans.” She said it would be inefficient since all the pipes had been removed from the facility and that the room would have to be renovated.
Gilliam also said White Hall’s cafeteria and most other dining areas like the Paw Print are underground, and that the university wants to have something more open and visible to the public.
“We’re trying to provide a variety based on what our customers want,” Gilliam said.
Gilliam added the new dining area should be “a popular place to eat.”
Assistant Director of Facilities and Construction John McCroskey said there are currently four rows of parking spaces in the lot blocked off by fences to allow for construction, and when finished only one row will remain. Gilliam said that due to the construction, 68 parking spaces would be lost once the building is finished.
Students on campus feel both the construction and the eventual building itself will be a burden to the parking situation.
Senior Christine Workman said the parking situation is more important than dining.
“It seems kind of unnecessary,” Workman said. “It seems like the parking is more necessary.”
Junior Erica Northrup said university shouldn’t begin new construction in a parking lot since it has already closed the Smith-Kirkley parking lot on campus for construction of the new parking garage.
“I think they need to worry about building a new parking garage before building a new dining facility,” Northrup said.
Northrup did agree with the idea of building the facility in the parking lot.
“It’s a good location for students who live over there, but again I think they need to worry about the garage because I haven’t seen any construction yet for it.”