Campus celebrates groundbreaking for academic, residential complex

ARC Groundbreaking

“This new facility will revitalize campus housing and provide much-needed amenities to our students,” says UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis. ( Photo: Jenny Fontaine)

It was just 16 degrees when then-Mayor Richard J. Daley cut the ceremonial ribbon for the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle campus in 1965, so it was “appropriate” to host a groundbreaking ceremony for UIC’s newest campus building on a day that started with snow but had reached a sunny 24 degrees by afternoon, said UIC Chancellor Michael Amiridis.

University leaders, city and state officials, representatives from American Campus Communities and more gathered at the Port Center in University Hall Tuesday afternoon to celebrate a new residential and academic complex under construction on the east side of campus.

“This new facility will revitalize campus housing and provide much-needed amenities to our students,” Amiridis said. “By creating innovative public-private partnerships, we are able to address our capital infrastructure needs in the current fiscal environment.”

With record-breaking enrollment this fall and the number of new students expected to climb by as many as 10,000 over the next decade, the new “living-learning” community will provide much-needed residential and academic spaces for students.

“This new facility will assist us with our growing student population,” said J. Rex Tolliver, vice chancellor student affairs. “We are looking forward to this building being on schedule, on time and under budget.”

Campus enrollment has had great momentum, Amiridis said, topping 30,000 students this fall.

“Why do they come to us when other institutions struggle with enrollment? Because we are really good, and they are really smart and they recognize the quality and value,” Amiridis said.

The 10-story tower will stand near Harrison and Morgan streets, along I-290 and adjacent to the Chicago Transit Authority’s recently renovated Peoria Street Bridge and Blue Line Station.

The building will include 83,000 square feet of residential space, housing 550 beds in a mix of traditional dorm rooms and suite-style units.

The complex will also feature 16,000 square feet of shared spaces, including lounges for studying and student interaction, offices, laundry rooms, a fitness center, a 10th-floor sky lounge, as well as 1,600 square feet of retail space expected to house a coffee shop.

The plans also call for 51,000 square feet of academic space in the structure, including three large lecture halls, four classrooms, several small group study rooms, a tutoring center, computer stations and collaboration spaces.

The $100 million facility is part of a public-private partnership with American Campus Communities, an Austin, Texas-based company and the nation’s largest developer, owner and manager of high-quality student housing communities.

The university traditionally has relied on state appropriations for capital infrastructure, but the campus has “struggled for decades” with funding for capital projects, Amiridis said.

“We commend the chancellor and university for adopting and seeking different alternatives,” said Jamie Wilhelm, executive vice president of public-private transactions for American Campus Communities. “We’re thrilled to partner with UIC to bring one of the leading mixed-use student developments in the country to fruition.”

Ill. Sen. Bill Cunningham, Ill. Rep. Chris Welch and Chicago Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson applauded the university’s partnership with American Campus Communities.

“The creative method of financing this project is a wonderful example of how you can create a public-private partnership for the benefit of Chicagoans,” Thompson said.

Chicago Deputy Mayor Robert Rivkin said the new building will benefit generations of students in Chicago.

“A new university building is about more than steel and concrete — it’s about creating a campus community,” he said.

The building is scheduled to open in August 2019.

“I guarantee, on that day, the weather will be slightly better than it is today,” Amiridis said.

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