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Union to break ground for student housing

JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–Union University will break ground for a new student residence complex Feb. 22.

Representatives from Union’s board of trustees are continuing to work on details with contractors, but the university has scheduled site work to begin Feb. 25 followed in early March by contractors to begin building the new facilities.

The complex will house more than 700 students when it is completed. Initial plans call for half of the housing to be complete by Sept. 1. Union officials expect the second half of the complex to be complete by the spring 2009 semester.

The two-story residence buildings will replace the old Watters and Hurt complexes, which housed about 700 students and sustained heavy damage in the Feb. 5 tornado that caused an estimated $40 million in damage to Union’s campus in Jackson, Tenn. None of the buildings in those two complexes was salvageable and the entire complexes were demolished the week of Feb. 11.

The new student housing facilities will be located in the former location of the Watters and Hurt complexes.

The apartment-style rooms in the new housing complex will feature four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchenette and a washer/dryer in each suite. Each building in the complex will contain 40, 48 or 56 bedrooms.

Union President David S. Dockery said the new student housing complex will have “a very handsome look” similar to the appearances of Jennings Hall and White Hall on the west side of the Union campus.

The complex ultimately will consist of four “quads,” with four buildings in each quad. Initial plans call for the completion of two quads, plus three buildings in each of the two remaining quads. A men’s commons and a women’s commons building will complete each of the final two quads after the rest of the buildings are finished.

All rooms will open to the inside of the quad, providing added security, Dockery said. In addition, each bathroom on the lower floor will be reinforced to serve as a safe room for students in the event of a storm.

Total cost for the project is estimated to exceed $30 million.

Last July, Union began construction on a residential complex that was scheduled for completion in 2008. It was originally projected to house 100 students in a four-story, hotel-style facility. But in light of the most recent developments surrounding the tornado damage, the university has decided to discontinue construction on that building.

The Feb. 22 groundbreaking for the new housing complex will be held during the chapel hour at 10 a.m., beginning in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel and concluding with the groundbreaking on the site of the new student housing complex, weather permitting.

Detailed images of the proposed plans for the new student housing facilities are available at www.uu.edu/rebuilding.
Tim Ellsworth is director of news and media relations at Union University.

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  • Tim Ellsworth

    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.

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