University City

$70 million in building continues on UNC Charlotte campus

Construction of the light rail station by CATS is underway on campus and projected to be completed in 2017.
Construction of the light rail station by CATS is underway on campus and projected to be completed in 2017. Marty Price

Cranes fill the skyline on campus as construction projects at UNCCharlotte are in full swing as the school prepares for the return of students and faculty this fall.

John Fessler, director of capital projects for UNCC, said approximately $70 million will be spent on the more than a dozen projects this year.

Fessler said that during peak construction this summer, while most students are away, his 14 project managers direct more than 800 construction workers on campus. The school normally schedules work on the residence halls to be completed in July, well before the start of classes, to eliminate any problems.

This year however, the work has been delayed and construction that was projected to be complete in June and July will be finished only days before students return. “We may be finishing up just days before they arrive,” he said.

Laurel Hall, the newest residence hall, with a cost of approximately $33.2 million, along with the renovated Holshouser and Oak Halls, will add to the capacity for students living on campus. “With the addition of the new housing, we are no longer a commuter campus,” said Fessler.

Construction on the campus is year-round. Fessler uses local and international construction companies to do the work. The school broke ground on the construction of residence hall No.14, the Levine Residence Hall, this summer with a estimated price tag of $45 million and a projected completion date of October 2016. This hall will be the first to include an academic wing as part of the construction and may be the model for future halls.

Ready this fall will be the Vickie and Gene Johnson Marching Band Center as well as the outdoor events shelter. Fessler said costs for the construction of the residence halls, dining halls and parking decks are funded by user fees; academic buildings and some roads are paid with tax dollars.

“The downturn in the economy hurt construction of tax-funded projects, but the residence halls and parking deck construction did not slow down,” said Fessler. He has been at UNCC more than nine years.

Two of the school’s current road projects will be completed after the students arrive.

In a joint venture with N.C. Department of Transportation, the school is improving the south entrance of the campus, at Cameron Boulevard and N.C. 49. There will be a traffic light added to the intersection at to aid pedestrians crossing the road while also helping traffic enter University City Boulevard. The work is scheduled to be completed in October.

The first phase of the Phillips Road relocation, referred to as the “bridge over Toby Creek” by Fessler, will move the road that separates tennis courts from the baseball field. It should be completed “before the first home football game,” said Fessler.

In addition to construction the school is working on, CATS is building the light rail station and adjoining track structures on campus. Projected completion is in 2017.

“My biggest challenge has been keeping everyone happy,” said Fessler. He said he tries to bring all the ideas to the table and implement the ones that work.

Marty Price is a freelance writer:

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John Fessler said the UNCC campus covers more than 1,000 acres with 104 buildings covering 7.6 million square feet. Between 2002 and 2014, the school completed $1.1 billion in capital improvements. To replace all facilities and infrastructure would cost $1.8 billion.

Enrollment at UNCC this fall is about 28,000 students.

UNCC information: