UT announces student-focused housing redevelopment plan - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UT announces student-focused housing redevelopment plan

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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, announced Wednesday a new student housing redevelopment plan that involves replacing six residence halls around Presidential Court with seven new modern facilities in five years.

The project will cost around $234 million and will replace all the existing high-rise facilities built in the 1960s with three and four floor modern structures in a new village-style student-focused community.

The project would be funded through housing and dining revenues that would fund new courtyards, greenways and outdoor amenities.

UT will seek approval from its Board of Trustees and the State Building Commission to expand an already-approved residence hall project that involves the demolition of Shelbourne Towers on 20th Street and the building of a new residence hall on the site.

If the expanded plan is approved, UT will build six new residence halls and one community and dining facility by 2019.

"We took a step back and began assessing our future needs and what we could do to offer students the kind of amenities and experiences they desire. We know from our student focus groups that our current facilities are a barrier to student engagement and interaction. This project will transform their residential experience and the overall campus community," said UT Executive Director of Housing Frank Cuevas.

The project could begin as early as spring 2014 with the demolition of Shelbourne Towers. An aggressive building schedule would bring several new halls online in 2016, with additional halls to open in 2018 and 2019.

UT is currently building its first new residence hall in 43 years. The Fred Brown Residence Hall will house 700 students when it opens next fall. Earlier this year UT announced plans to demolish Gibbs Hall and build a new residence hall and dining

Building new structures will allow the university to achieve its goals for student engagement through better integration of dining, study and common space, meeting space and outdoor gathering spaces. The redevelopment will also better accommodate the university's growing number of living/learning communities, where students of similar majors, interests and academic programs reside on the same floor.

Cuevas said the plan aims to make UT more competitive for recruiting new students and help propel the university toward its goal of becoming a Top 25 public institution.

"We need to do a better job of making them feel that they are at home even when away from home. "This plan will allow us to offer what we should as we aspire to become a Top 25 public research university," Cuevas.

Approximately 7,300 students currently live in 11 existing facilities on the UT campus.

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