EPIC Companies and the University of Jamestown hosted a groundbreaking for UJ Place, a new five-story structure being built north of the Harold Newman Arena on campus, on Monday, Sept. 30.
The ceremony took place inside the arena due to weather constraints, and representatives from EPIC, UJ and Gehrtz Construction Services presented community members with information regarding the construction project.
UJ Place will be a mixed-use building with four floors of residential living facilities above a main floor consisting of commercial businesses. A parking garage will be located below the building. The project has an estimated cost of $12 million.
McKenzy Olson, vice president of marketing and public relations for EPIC, said one business has signed a lease agreement, while a few others are having leases in "draft form" or have signed letters of intent. Olson said local businesses in the Jamestown area are the first priority for the company as it works to rent out the commercial space.
Olson said EPIC would release names of businesses renting the commercial areas as the construction process moves along.
"It's a super exciting time, the vision for this project was to bring mixed use to campus to bring retail services for the students and the faculty," said Amy Hass, senior vice president of EPIC. "It's all about creating an atmosphere where students have more options for not only living but for services as well."
Olson said businesses on the main floor of UJ Place could include restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Right above, up to 112 students could be moved in by the start of the 2020 school year.
"Over 700 of our students right now live on campus, and after this construction is complete, over 800 will be living on campus," said Polly Peterson, president of UJ. "We've had growing enrollment this year, it's the second highest in our history.
"Out of that number, there's only about 35 that are part time," Peterson said. "Our students are here and they are residing on campus."
Karen Crane, senior director of marketing and campaigns at UJ, said the colleges enrollment is up 3.3% from the last academic year, to a total of 1,135 students.
EPIC and UJ's relationship began on Aug. 30 last year in Fargo, when university officials met with EPIC to discuss a potential project on UJ's campus.
"We've come quiet a long way in the last 13 months, and we're looking forward to the fun part now," said Blake Nybakken, vice president of development for EPIC. "We're excited to see what happens ... we got about 10 and a half to 11 months left until students come in next year."
Jamestown Mayor Dwaine Heinrich said the project would serve all of Jamestown, not just students on campus.
"We're here today to build a foundation for a building that will last for generations and that will continue to serve the university and this community," Heinrich said.