Mon. May 16th, 2022

The West Chester Borough consented to the final land development of a new facility on the West Chester University campus in late September at the Borough Council Work Session Meeting.

According to the Facilities of Design and Construction, beginning aspects of the construction for “The Commons Project” will commence Oct. 23, 2017. Assistant Executive Director of the Facilities Design and Construction, Kathleen DiJoseph, said during construction, “It’ll be a slightly new reality to campus because all of our previous construction projects have sort of been on the buffers of campus.”

The Commons Project’s main intention is to provide a brand new engineering, health science center and a new dining facility on the WCU campus.

“It is a living and learning environment,” said DiJoseph. “A pivotal building on campus that will have both academic components and auxiliary pieces.”

Over the past few years, the College of Health and Science has been growing and the new facility will provide space for the college’s Immersive Learning Center with labs and classrooms. They will also have designated space for faculty research. The project is to bring a majority of the College of Health and Science’s programs into the heart of WCU’s North Campus.

“From the academic side, it’ll create great new space for a number of colleges,” said Executive Director of the Facilities of Design and Construction Patrick Brunner. “I think the change for dining will be phenomenal, and then of course the impact on the campus as a whole I think is going to be significant.”

The lower level of The Commons Project is said to replace the Lawrence dining hall that has been on campus since the 1960s, but Lawrence will continue to be in use until The Commons Project officially opens. “It’ll bring a much more exciting dining experience both in terms of what’s offered and also the way you can be in this large room but still feel very much like you’re in a small place in the room,” said Brunner.

According to DiJoseph, the new dining area will feature exhibition cooking, a coffee shop, a market, a graband-go and a new upscale restaurant that can be used for student functions.

The facility will be located in the “D” parking lot in the area adjacent to Tyson Hall, replacing the boiler plant. “Our other projects we got to set aside and ignore; this one will be a part of our daily lives so we’ll all be a part of it,” said DiJoseph.

The Commons Project is planned to be 176,000 square feet and a new parking garage is also to be built with 457 spots to accommodate the loss of part of “D” parking lot.

The planning of the project began in 2014, and the final land development application was submitted to the Borough of West Chester in August of 2016. The project has been pushed for approval until WCU complied with the necessary requirements from branches of the borough.

“The borough was very cautious with approving the plans and things like that, and that even predated me being on Borough Council,” said Borough Council member and Communication Studies Department Chair Dr. Denise Polk. “This has been years in the works, but I think that caution is understandable, but I think it’s a good accomplishment that the university persevered and was able to get to the point that this is going to happen,” she said.

Now that they are completed with the land development stage of the project, it can move forward and begin this May. The Commons Project is anticipated to be finished for the fall 2020 semester. “It’ll be a nice area on campus. I think people will really be surprised by it once it’s all finished,” said Brunner.

Erin McFeeters is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at EM857951@wcupa.edu.

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