Breaking Ground

Officials perform a ground breaking ceremony on the Rogers Hall lawn Friday, Aug. 31. The Academic and Student Commons Building is scheduled to be completed in fall of 2013.

UNA officials, community members and business owners kicked off the holiday weekend last week by officially breaking ground on the academic and student commons building located next to Rogers Hall.

President Bill Cale said UNA modeled its design and vision for the building after Georgia State University’s engagement in its downtown area.

“(The building) dramatically exceeds my expectations,” Cale said. “This project is a partnership and it creates an entire different partnership than that at Georgia State.”

Cale said the building is different in that the tenants have gift agreements with the university, not rental agreements. Announced tenants include: Chick-fil-A, Starbucks Coffee Co., Frostbite, Listerhill Credit Union and Follett Bookstore Co.

In addition to the tenants in the lower portions of the building, the architect Hugo Dante, of Create Architects in Tuscumbia, designed academic space on the third floor that will house the Center for Academic Advising and Retention Services and the Department of Criminal Justice.

“I can’t wait for it to be open to see the students, the faculty and the citizens of Florence (inside),” said UNA Trustee Steve Pierce. “It’s going to be open for them to come in and grab a cup of coffee and buy your UNA gear.”

The building is a continuation of the vast amount of expansion going on at UNA, Cale said.  Cale said that although many students were upset when parking was taken away to begin construction, the university administration is working to add parking in the area.

“By Oct. 1, we will have added 56 spots to an area we own right across the street,” Cale said.

Cale has been working with Florence District 2 Councilman Dick Jordan to get approval to pave a plot of land that formerly was occupied by three houses that served as storage facilities and the Office of Student Media.

Cale said the new lot and the surrounding area should be aesthetically pleasing.