Expansion approved

With the final approval from the university’s board of trustees, initial plans for a 20,000 square foot, $5.06 million expansion to the Patti and Allan Herbert Wellness Center began in December.

After originally facing an indefinite halt in construction, the new expansion was allowed to go forward Dec. 18. The site will be located on the current courtyard next to the outside basketball courts.

“Hopefully we’re going to be able to continue to function with minimal interruptions,” said Director of the Wellness Center Norm Parsons. “And we’re going to be able to do that because of the gymnasium on the far end, what we call center court.”

The machines on the first floor of the Wellness Center will be moved to center court during construction. According to Parsons, 95 percent of the facility will still be accessible while the expansion is erected.

The expansion will include a two floor wing that will allow the Wellness Center to increase cardiovascular machines by 20 to 30 percent, as well as incorporate a new pilates studio complete with six reformers. Two multipurpose rooms are set to be opened on the second floor of the new wing.

Last October, the plans for the expansion were put on hold because of the university’s mounting losses from the crippling economic recession. According to Parsons, only a small portion of the total cost of the expansion is being borrowed.

The outdoor basketball courts were designated the construction staging area for the equipment and supplies needed for the operation. The trees formerly located in the Wellness Center courtyard will be relocated to other areas on campus to make way for the new expansion.

“With 3,000 people going there every day, we’ll be able to expand it even further,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Pat Whitely. “Although the students know that there will be some inconvenience, it won’t be a huge inconvenience.”

According to Whitely, there will be a strong effort to ensure that sufficient notification is given to students to update the university community on the status of the project.

“It’s a first class wellness center as it is, but we’ll be able to expand the fitness room. Students will know what’s going on at every point in time,” she said. “We’re excited for this project to go forward.”

Ramon Galiana may be contacted at rgaliana@themiamihurricane.com.