After five long years of development, it looks like the new student center at NC Central University could open in the spring of 2022, barring further delays. The student center was originally scheduled to open in 2021.
Walter Lennon, project manager at NCCU, said he’s excited for students to enjoy the new building.
“It’s going to be a really nice, modern space. Students will be able to enter and enjoy a variety of new amenities,” said Lennon, who worked on the project for about two and a half years and at NCCU for almost eight years.
The 100,000 square foot building, located at the corner of Fayetteville Street and between Nelson and Cecil Streets, will replace the 53-year-old Alfonso Elder Student Union, which will be redeveloped.
The new center will provide space for activities, events and recreation. It will have a large, versatile gathering space that can accommodate up to 1,000 people for conferences, banquets and other events. It will also provide office space for student union activities and student organizations. Public computer stations will also be available.
Its auditorium will accommodate 1,750 students and will include a catering service for events. Other catering services will include a Chick-Fil-A, Freshens and more, Lennon said.
Programs housed in the as-yet-unnamed center will include the Department of Diversity and Inclusion, LGBTA Center, Women’s and Men’s Centers, a Gaming Center, Student Senate Chamber, and Guidance Services.
The current student union, with its 39,000 square feet, was named after Alphonso Elder, second president of the NCCU. Built in 1968, it was designed to serve approximately 2,500 students. Today’s enrollment is over 8,000. Its last major renovation was in 1992.
Commissioning of the current project began in late 2016. Its funding, along with that of the new business school, was funded by the Student Debt Service Charge, which was backed by $30 million from the Connect NC Bond, and an additional $8.6 million from the North Carolina State Legislature. The center is designed by O’brien Atkins, Duda – Paine Architects and the MHTN Architects team.
The new center has exceeded its original budget of $36 million by $11 million. Bringing its total cost to $47.3 million, as of 2017. Lennon explained that new programs have been added to preliminary designs and large buildings usually have unexpected cost overruns.
As of June 2021, the project is 89% complete and is expected to be complete by December 31, 2021. Once complete, opening will be determined by administration according to Lennon.
Ondin Mihalcescu, director of capital project management at NCCU, said he was excited about the new building and confident that students will appreciate the new amenities.
The new center is just one part of NCCU’s master plan, which includes other projects such as the public-private partnership (or P3 project) which will bring three new residential halls – Chidley South and two more which will be located on George Street and Lawson. Street.