New residence hall, tour center promotes UNT’s future growth

A groundbreaking ceremony outside Kerr Hall Monday signaled the start of phase 1 of construction on a new residence hall and tour center at UNT. The almost $5 million project will supply 500 beds in a unique pod style of contemporary design to promote community amongst residents.

“We have 14 resident halls,” UNT President Smatresk said. “This will be lucky 15.”

The 5-floor residence hall under the alias “2018” boasts double-occupancy units that share a 4-1 ratio of bathrooms, according to Director of Housing Gina Vanacore. Within each unit is also a shared living space for studying and socializing.

UNT Housing is an auxiliary unit of the university, which means that it does not receive direct funding from the state, similar to other units on campus like dining and transportation. The Board of Regents authorized a bond loan for UNT Housing to borrow money from the state and is expected to pay it off over the next 30 years.

A portion of that payment will come out of student tuition applied to the building of “2018.”

“[We want to] compress rates so there isn’t much variance,” Vanacore said. “It won’t be prohibitive. The goal is to make it accessible.”

The timeline for construction puts the safety of students as the number one priority and no traffic will be impeded during the process. The entire project is contractually obligated to be complete by August 2018 in anticipation for the incoming wave of freshmen, the targeted group “2018” hopes to house.

But, for housing ambassador Travis Green, the tour center is a welcome change from his current job.

“One of the most common phrases we have is, ‘Geez, you guys are harder to find than a parking spot,’” housing ambassador Travis Green said.

The new tour center is being built between Kerr and “2018.” This welcome center, as VP for Enrollment Shannon Goodman puts it, will be the “living room of the university.” With 50,000 people touring the university annually, there is a strong need for an easily accessible centralized area for new people to meet.

“Having a place that is a showcase is what we are all excited about,” Goodman said.

The tour center will be home to the current housing and dining team currently living in Crumley Hall.  The move will open up additional space for students to live in Crumley. The ambassador program began in 1998 and the opening of the new tour center will mark its 20th anniversary in 2018.

Journalism freshman Julian Esparza attended the ceremony after hearing about it on Twitter. Living in Kerr Hall was overall a good thing, he said, but it saddened him to see parking being taken away to make room for the new residence hall and tour center.

“I like that convenience is a factor,” Esparza said. “Everything is close by.”

Featured Image: UNT members involved with the resident hall and tour center vision breaks sand with shovels. The Groundbreaking Ceremony marks the official construction of Resident Hall “2018” and the Tour Center at UNT. Travis McCallum

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