Officials are hoping a planned $12 million multipurpose project on the campus of the University of Jamestown can move off the drawing board and into the construction phase this summer.
“The University of Jamestown has seen some growth and that drove the need for additional housing,” said Polly Peterson, president of the university. “... there is also a need for (retail) services in that area. Really, it is a hub of activity with limited services.”
UJ Place is planned as a five-story building offering 56 housing units on the upper four levels and 13,000 square feet of commercial space on the main floor. The building is planned for across the street north of the Harold Newman Arena in the area previously occupied by the Jamestown Parks and Recreation Department’s outdoor swimming pool. That pool was demolished last summer and swimming activities are now held at the Two Rivers Activity Center.
Peterson said the location places UJ Place near Harold Newman Arena where Jimmie basketball and volleyball events are held, Wilson Arena where Blue Jay and Jimmie hockey are played, and near the TRAC recreational facility.
“There is a need for services in the area,” Peterson said. “There is just a large amount of activity in the area.”
The University of Jamestown is working with EPIC Management of Fargo which will construct, manage and operate UJ Place while the University of Jamestown maintains ownership of the land, Peterson said.
McKenzy Olson, vice president of marketing and public relations for EPIC, said the company is still looking for investors while working on permits and planning an aggressive construction schedule.
“We’re looking at starting construction in July 2019 with completion by August 2020,” she said.
Peterson added the project’s August 2020 completion date would make it available for student housing for the 2020 through 2021 school year.
Olson said a mixed use building such as UJ Place is a good fit for the neighborhood.
“The commercial area will focus on customer service industries like retail, food services, coffee shops, spa, bar and grill, businesses,” she said. “The concept is it will be walkable (distance) for most (students). We hope it becomes the main hub students will want to be around.”
Peterson said recruiting existing Jamestown businesses to open a second location at UJ Place will be a priority. She hoped to see a small convenience store or maybe a pharmacy in the mix of businesses in the building.
“We hope for good community support for the commercial space,” she said.
University of Jamestown students will be given priority for the apartment spaces with the remaining spaces made available to staff and faculty of the university. The general public would be allowed to rent if space remains.
Olson said the project makes use of an unused space near some of the busiest streets in Jamestown. The project increases the number of parking spots for visitors and customers and offers underground parking to the residents of the building.
Peterson said the project will change the look of the east side of the campus.
“I’m thrilled and excited for the new face to that campus entrance,” she said. “It may become the main entrance to our campus.”