WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - UNCW officially broke ground on its new $140 million Student Housing Village on Thursday.
The village, which will be next to Galloway Hall, will add four new buildings that will house 1,814 students. The first two are expected to be completed by fall of 2020. The remaining two will be finished by fall of 2021.
UNCW wants to make the student housing more of a learning and living environment by building meeting rooms, retail and coffee shops. Chancellor Jose Sartarelli says the complex will become a central part of the student housing community in the university’s near future.
“This is going to be a major center of activity on campus, this part of the campus. So by the end of this process, we’ll probably have over 5,500 students living on campus and half of them will be living here,” said Sartarelli. “So I think this will be very exciting for the university, keeping up with our growth. We’re preparing this for the next 10-15 years of the life of the university as we grow and we become even more recognized.”
Sartarelli says plans for the new facilities had already been in the works, and were made more urgent by the loss of buildings to Hurricane Florence. Almost 400 students were displaced after University Apartments had to close indefinitely due to damage.
“[The buildings] were highly compromised by Florence as it came in. Lots of water everywhere, throughout the buildings, so we could not recover those buildings," said Sartarelli. “So we had been planning to demolish them anyway to set up this new complex. We accelerated that process and they’re all gone, as you can see, and we’re ready to start building."
Sartarelli also says the university plans to build stronger and smarter in preparation for more devastating natural disasters. Future structures would be resistant to wind speeds of 135 mph or more.