News Date: 
Thursday, April 5, 2012

Source: The Red and Black

By RAISA HABERSHAM on April 5, 2012

Plans to demolish Bolton Dining Commons and erect a 67,000 square foot building costing $26.7 million at the corner of Lumpkin and Baxter streets have been in the works since January, according to documents obtained by The Red & Black.

A proposal for a new dining hall stated that the University approved the project early this year, and is hoping for approval by the Board of Regents later this month. The new hall would be in place of the parking area across from the Tate parking lot, and if approved the University would begin construction in May 2013.

“What would happen in the time frame as we see it happens, we would operate Bolton as the new facility is being built,” said Michael J. Floyd, executive director of food services. “As the new facility is open, then we would demolish Bolton.”

Although Bolton is already the largest dining hall on campus at 32, 000 square feet, the new building will have three levels with new dining options and a connecting bridge to the Tate Student Center and Miller Learning Center costing more than double what it would to renovate it.

According to a letter to the Regents dated Feb. 7, $500,000 would go toward demolishing the existing Bolton and $1.5 million would go toward the bridge. The letter also states $19 million will go toward construction.

UGA Food Services will pay $8 million from its reserves upfront and pay the remaining $18.7 million from revenue over the course of 30 years.

According to the proposal, the UGA Real Estate Foundation may finance up to $50,000 of its funds for the project.

Food services operates on a $38 million budget, Floyd said, adding meal plans will more than likely go up, but not as a result of the project.

If the Regents approve the new dining hall, the University should expect heavy commuter and pedestrian traffic as the future Terry College of Business will be located across from the proposed dining commons.

The new Bolton is the result of outdated air-conditioning systems in the dining facility, Floyd said.

“The University has determined that adaptive reuse of Bolton Dining Commons is cost prohibitive due to the poor condition of the building’s system,” stated the project proposal.

According to the proposal, Bolton needs a new roof and contains “periodic decay and collapse of plumbing elements, substandard fire protection systems, and energy-efficient glazing.” The building also needs a new air conditioning unit.

“It quickly became obvious that the most prudent course of action was to try to build a new building,” Floyd said.

Floyd said given preexisting problems with the near 50-year-old hall, it was more cost-effective to construct a new building indicating upgrades to the existing dining hall would total $2 million, but a $9 million dollar upgrade scheduled for a later date would set food services back.

“We had sticker shock, then we started looking and saying what do we need to do in the building,” he said.

An earlier draft of the proposal stated renovating Bolton would take up to one year, “creating service shortcomings and almost certain reduction in meal plan revenue.”

Renovations were last done on the dining hall in 2000, but they did not address Bolton’s problems, according to documents.

University President Michael Adams said at a recent media briefing Bolton was in as bad of shape as Rutherford Hall and needed to be torn down.

“Bolton is also a case that we’ve looked at very carefully,” he said at the briefing. “We need a better, more modern facility near the central campus. It’s overcrowded and under seated. It’s not modern enough to offer services that students want like Joe Frank Harris.”

There are no set plans for the Bolton’s location behind Creswell Hall once it is demolished, but Tom Jackson, vice president of public affairs, said new dorms are projected to go there based on the University’s master plan, though it’s not set in stone.

“It’s the direction in which buildings would go,” he said. “It’s not hard and fast, but in record years that is the direction it would go. The [University] President has said that’s where new housing would go.”

Jackson added that eventually Creswell, Russell and Brumby residence halls would be renovated and there would need to be additional space to accommodate freshmen.

Kristine Bremer, a freshman pre-business major from Heidelberg, Germany, said she thinks if Bolton does get replaced, it should be with a parking lot.

“[People] will be losing parking spots in Legion, and it’s impossible to find a spot even if you have a parking pass,” she said.

When it comes to the new Bolton location, Bremer said she thinks it’ll help students living in North Campus.

“It’ll be worse for people who live in the high rises, but it’ll be more convenient for non-freshman in Reed and Payne [halls],” she said. “It will be sad to not see it there, but it’s in everyone’s best interest.”

Julia Gryzenia, a freshman business major from Dublin, thinks the University should place dorms in Bolton’s old spot.

“We need another dorm, especially if they keep accepting freshmen the way they do,” she said.

Though Gryzenia said she didn’t love Bolton, she will cherish the memories she made there.

“Honestly, I hated Bolton, but I have so many memories there that it would break my heart if they tore it down,” she said. “That’s where I met my first friends [at the University] and became a real college student.”

Construction on the new dining facility will begin May 2013 if approved by the Regents and will open August 2014.

 

BY the numbers

Cost of new dining facility: $26.7 million

Cost to renovate existing Bolton: $11 million

Cost to demolish existing Bolton: $500,000

Cost of bridge over Lumpkin Street: $1.5 million

Cost UGA Food Services will pay up front for new facility: $8 million