Construction begins for Parkview housing project

Photo courtesy of HADP Architecture, INC

By: Mariella Roque/Staff Writer

University housing students are losing a parking lot today but gaining new dorms as construction starts for the new housing structure called Parkview.

Bill Foster, executive director of Parking and Transportation, announced the new plans for the Panther Hall parking lot and 113th avenue to housing students and the Residence Hall Association board last Wednesday evening at a town hall meeting in Everglades Hall.

The area will be closed until 2013 in order to have the space and time to build the new facilities.

“One of the primary missions of this institution is to grow the on-campus experience and our desire [is] to see students learn and excel on campus,” said Jim Wassenaar, executive director of Student Affairs Operations and Auxiliary Services, who delivered the initial presentation of the new housing project.

Parkview, according to the FIU housing website, “will consist of two construction phases each accommodating 620 beds of student housing…” Phase one is expected to be completed by fall 2013 and phase two by the fall 2016.

“In many ways, [Parkview will be] equivalent to what [students] are experiencing currently in [the University Park] Towers,” Wassenaar said.

The models of the plan were unveiled by means of display boards, a 3-D miniature replica and a visual presentation.

“I’m really excited,” said Patricia Theard, junior in biology and chemistry and vice president of RHA at Everglades Hall. “It’s great how they planned it out.”

Along with the dorms, the two new buildings, connected by an elevated bridge, will include lounges, study rooms and multi-purpose gathering spaces. A three-story parking garage will be placed between Parkview and Panther Hall.

Photo courtesy of HADP Architecture, INC

“This is the very first housing project that will also have with it a parking structure,” Wassenaar said. “[This is] in response to the growing demands.”

According to Wassenaar, the Panther Hall parking lot will be “relocated as a byproduct of the project.”

“Normally we take 18 months to build a structure this size… The reality is you can’t deliver a residence hall late,” Wassenaar said. “The contractors have been given the minimum time in order to erect this building.”

Although the building process will not begin until June 6, underground utilities and roadwork will begin March 5.

“We didn’t want to shut down Panther Hall lot, we put it off as long as we could,” Wassenaar said.

“If we don’t start on March 5, we’re not going to finish,” Foster said.

Foster and Wassenaar offered suggestions as to where housing students could park while the site is under construction.

This included parking on the west side of the FIU Stadium, as well as Gold Garage.

Foster was also said he is open to talks of keeping Panther Garage open 24 hours a day in order to accommodate students. He also considered a student’s idea of extending Panther Tram services from Panther Garage until 2 a.m.

“I feel they have a good team working on this,” said Carlos Rodriguez, a junior majoring in biology. “It will be better [for students] in the long-run.”

Director of Residential Life Lynn Hendricks and an architect from HADP Architecture, Inc. working on the housing project were also present at the meeting to listen to the feedback from students regarding the plans.

“This does not represent the complete vision,” Wassenaar said. “It’s what we’re able to articulate today.”

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