The University of Tennessee wants to get approval to overhaul many of the dorms on campus in what could be the most expansive and expensive project in university history.
The $234 million project includes tearing down North Carrick, South Carrick, Humes, Reese, Morrill and the Apartment Residence Hall and replacing them with three to four level buildings in a village-style community. They also plan to add a new dining facility.
Right now, the university is seeking approval from the Board of Trustees and the State Building Commission to add these six buildings to an already approved plan to demolish and rebuild Shelbourne Towers.
"It's an incredibly exciting time to be at the university. There is really no place in the country that is doing what the University of Tennessee is doing right now," said Dave Irvin, Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities.
The university has an aggressive timeline. They want to have it all finished in five years by 2019.
"It's an incredibly aggressive time line. It's a five year time frame and when you look around and see what that means that is aggressive. But we think it's important that we do it quickly for the good of our students for their success, for their retention. To not do that would be an opportunity missed," said Irvin.
The new modern-style housing was chosen for many reasons. First, it was cheaper to rebuild than to renovate. Plus, students say this type of housing is what they want.
"Our students have told us that they prefer the more residential feel. Obviously it's hard to duplicate that in a high rise. A lot of other campuses as they are replacing their housing are doing more low-rise to create more of a community and to give a more homier feel," said Executive Director of UT Housing Frank Cuevas.
Cuevas says this housing will help recruit more students and also retain them.
The new housing facilites will be paid for through housing fees, and the dining facility will be paid for through dining revenue. They will also use student beautification fees to fund new courtyards, greenways and outdoor amenities.
Cuevas says it will change all aspects of campus life.
"It will give them the chance to really get engaged into what's already occuring in terms of the level of programs that we're providing, but also to really integrate what's happening on the academic side with the non-academic portion of campus life," said Cuevas.