Renovations to the first floor of the University Student Center (USC) on the St. Pete campus are in the early stages of development, including plans to reallocate the space to provide more seating areas, seating and new entrances for students.
Currently, USC is primarily dedicated to catering services for students, as it houses The Reef Dining Hall. However, with the recent opening of the new dining room, The Nest, in the spring on the first floor of Osprey Suites, Director of Student Success Resource Management Anthony Carinci said a change was needed. now possible and necessary to reallocate space to USC.
“Now we have built a deliberate and intentional dining room in [Osprey Suites], the student center has the opportunity to rethink the purpose of the whole building, because we originally had to devote so much space and operational resources to it being the only one [main] dining room, ”he said.
Construction is not expected to begin until summer 2023, but when it does begin, Carinci said the team hopes to transform USC from a reserved area for restaurants to one that looks like the Marshall Student Center (MSC) on campus. of Tampa.
“This is an opportunity for us to reinvent what the student center can be on our campus,” said Carinci. “[At the MSC] there are plenty of lounge areas, flexible seating, places to study, study rooms, a gallery and more. There are all these kinds of spaces to add to the student experience that we didn’t have the luxury of having because we had to be the only main restaurant before. [the new one opened]. “
Other priorities and structural changes occurring at USC include the addition of new entries to improve accessibility for students
“One of the priorities of the project is to create a main entrance on the north side of the building so that when students arrive from Osprey Suites in the heart of the campus, they have an entrance into the student center from the side they are walking on.” , he said.
“What this allows us to do is on the west side of the building, which is currently the main entrance, now we can make it a more meal-oriented entrance. This will allow us to have dedicated entries.
Carinci said another priority on the list includes adding a dedicated accommodation entrance, as students currently have to walk through USC to get to the accommodation building.
While no plans have been confirmed for the use of the space, Carinci said many other ideas are currently under discussion, and past and future surveys of students will help them understand what the students want to see USC.
Ideas don’t just revolve around structural changes, according to Carinci. He said the feedback from the students allowed Student Success to start considering projects such as an esports space and an auditorium-style theater.
Changes to the food service facility located at USC are also underway, as Carinci said, Aramark, the USF’s food service provider, has provided significant support to the project.
“[Aramark] plans to spend money on reallocation [the dining space] in the student center, ”he said. “So one of the main reasons this project is moving forward is that we are transforming the student center from being essentially the campus dining hall to be more like what you would experience in a campus living room. “
Plans for the dining room are currently unknown, but Carinci said Aramark is taking the time to understand what concepts, such as new menu items, would suit the renovated USC when it opens.
“We wanted to do [the changes] in conjunction with the changes Aramark was going to make because we wanted to feel holistic and be able to do it in harmony with them to create a better space overall, ”Carinci said.
The authorization to go ahead with the project was granted and voted by the Capital Improvement Trust Fund Committee (CITFC) in 2019. The renovations are second on the list of priority projects approved by the CITFC, which explains why why construction will not begin until 2023, according to Carinci.
The budget for the proposed project is around $ 2 million, of which about $ 1.3 million will come from the CITFC allocation, according to Carinci. The campus receives just over $ 600,000 per year from the CITFC allocation, so Carinci said the university will raise these funds in 2021-2022, which is $ 1.3 million.
“The rest of [the funds] will come from the student center reserves. There is an A&S dedicated to student center operations, and these fees have not been fully spent each year. There was a reserve that was able to build up over time, so we have over $ 1 million in that reserve and can devote about $ 700,000 or more if needed to the project.
Carinci said any food service renovations will be done with funds provided by Aramark.
Student feedback is essential to the completion of the project, according to Carinci, and he encourages students to make their voices heard on any ideas for upcoming renovations.
“We are still in the ideation phase, so nothing has been decided. If there are any students who want to get involved in the project and talk more about it, I really encourage them to come to the University Student Center information desk and say hello, or even email us. or call us to contact us and lend their voice, ”he said.
“Ultimately, it will be driven by the voices of the students and the voices of the St. Petersburg community. This is a great opportunity to somehow leave your legacy if there is something that you are truly passionate about.