Construction projects are still underway at Grand Rapids Community College and with fall semester less than a week away, students may need to find alternate routes to get to campus.
There are four current construction projects campus-wide: DeVos Parking Ramp, Bostwick Parking Ramp, Ford Fieldhouse and Olivarez Commons. The biggest of the four projects is the Ford Fieldhouse renovation, estimated at $8 million, which began in the spring and is expected to be completed by the second semester of the upcoming academic year, according to GRCC Executive Director of Facilities Jim Van Dokkumburg.
“(The) project essentially recreates the entire fieldhouse experience,” Van Dokkumburg said. “New student study areas, health club athletic locker and training rooms and exercise science program classrooms and labs are included in this renovation.”
Though the pool building adjacent to the fieldhouse is not under construction or a part of the renovation project, the building will remain closed until the fieldhouse construction is done. Van Dokkumburg explains the pool building and the fieldhouse share fire alarm systems and “infrastructure that precludes the pool remaining open.” The pool will open later in the fall, but it is yet unclear the exact reopening date.
As for the other three projects, Van Dokkumburg assures they will be completed by Aug. 27, the first day of the fall semester. The DeVos Parking Ramp, located at 415 Fulton Street at the DeVos Campus, underwent a complete renovation during the summer which included improvements for drivers as well as pedestrians. The projected cost of renovation for the DeVos Parking Ramp was $1 million.
“All asphalt parking areas have been rebuilt and repaved,” Van Dokkumburg said. “(The) improvements include a new walkway from Prospect Avenue to the Welcome Center (at) Sneden Hall, allowing pedestrians space to walk without passing through active parking lot areas and a new entry drive from East Fulton to the parking areas near Mable Engle House, Lettinga and Sneden Halls.”
The Bostwick Parking Ramp is also nearly finished with its three-year, three-phase renovation efforts and will be open for students Aug. 27 though the Fountain Street entrances for students and employees opened on Aug. 13. The estimated cost of repairs to the Bostwick Parking Ramp was $350,000.
Lastly, the Olivarez Commons project, which included adding safety bollards to each end of Bostwick Commons, has been completed. The addition cost an estimated $230,000.
Construction on campus is not the only snag students can expect on the first day of the semester. There is a large construction area on the intersection of Division Avenue and Fountain Street that could hamper students’ daily commute to campus. According to Van Dokkumburg, the City of Grand Rapids abruptly began the construction project after terracotta cladding from a nearby building began falling off the structure creating a hazard for pedestrians and drivers. Though the project does not appear on the city’s online road construction directory, which shows all of the current and future construction projects in the city of Grand Rapids, it is set to continue through the fall.
“Although this city project will continue into the fall,” Van Dokkumburg said, “(The city is) very aware of our consternation with the schedule and have agreed to expedite the work.”
GRCC and the City of Grand Rapids are working together to make the process as safe and smooth for students and staff returning to campus in the next couple of weeks.
“We are working with the city and their contractor to assure there is adequate signage for students, staff and visitors to find their way to campus and the Bostwick Ramp,” Van Dokkumburg said.