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Queens University embarks on major building campaign

Queens University of Charlotte raised $120 million in a capital campaign that ended last June, enabling it to go on a major building program that is one of the largest in the university’s 155-year history.

Three projects now under construction take up 6 acres, or 20 percent, of the 30-acre Myers Park campus.

All the buildings will feature brick facades and duplicate the Georgian architectural style of its original 1914 structures designed by noted Charlotte architect C.C. Hook. Buildings with modern exteriors are also getting new facades.

With zoning regulations limiting building heights to 100 feet and other requirements regulating factors such as open space, “we’re almost built out,” said Bill Nichols, vice president for campus planning and services.

Queens Construction

A crane towers over the site where Charlotte-based InterCon Building Corp. is building a parking deck for Queens University. Photo by Scott Baughman

But Queens is creatively dealing with those limitations. For one, it is partnering with Mecklenburg County to build a sports complex off Tyvola Road and will purchase the Charles R. Jonas federal courthouse building in uptown for about $10 million to house its graduate programs when the feds build a new courthouse. That could be as soon as 2017.

Queens has also moved its nursing program – the third-largest graduator of registered nurses in the state – to a 30,000-square-foot building across from Presbyterian Hospital.

Queens, a former women-only school – it went coed in 1987 – is on track to house and educate a growing student body. Its capital campaign will also fund scholarships and an endowment.

Ten years ago, there were about 550 undergrad students; there are now roughly 1,350, and plans are to cap enrollment at 2,000 by 2020.  About 70 percent of undergraduate students live on campus, a percentage the university wants to retain, Nichols said. Its graduate school programs are also growing.

So it’s no surprise that one of its three new buildings is a residence hall with a 500-car parking deck.

Charlotte-based InterCon Building Corp. is the contractor. The deck will open in August and the residence hall, with 180 beds, in the fall.

Also opening this fall will be the James E. and Mary Anne Rogers Science and Health Building, a four-story, 56,000-square-foot science facility with 25 labs, 32 faculty offices, a 100-seat auditorium, five classrooms and a greenhouse on the third floor. It will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified building on campus and be built to platinum standards, the highest level awarded. Conover-based Matthews Construction Co. is the contractor.

The $27-million Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation will be completed in summer 2013. It will replace the Ovens Athletic Center that previously sat on the site on Wellesley Avenue. The new, 140,000-square-foot facility will feature a fitness center, an aquatics center and a performance gym with three basketball courts. The courts will feature moveable walls and retractable bleachers so the space can be configured for different types of events. Charlotte-based construction company Rodgers is the contractor.

Off campus, at the sports complex at the 65-acre county-owned Marion Diehl Park, Queens has already spent $13 million to construct a soccer/lacrosse field, a track and an adaptive field for disabled participants, plus two buildings. All the facilities will be open to the public. The university plans to spend about another $12 million – plans call for adding a tennis center – by the time the complex is built-out in 2015.

Nichols hopes the school can soon raise $1.2 million to expand and renovate the nondenominational Belk Chapel. Although the chapel hosts weekly services, it is primarily used as a site for weddings, making it an important revenue generator for the university.

But the chapel is now closed because of construction of the nearby Rogers building. Nichols would like to see the work done on the portico and the 6,000-sqaure-foot addition before Rogers opens. He said the chapel project would take about six months to complete.

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