COLUMBIA — For MU students looking for a mid-campus hangout, the wait for a more spacious facility will be shorter than expected.
A new section of MU's student center is set to open Aug. 18 instead of spring 2011 as originally planned.
The newest section of the $63 million student center renovation will include dining, lounge and study space for students.
Michelle Froese, a spokeswoman for Student Auxiliary Services at MU, said good weather has sped up construction. Because contractors were able to close in the main atrium area early, they can work inside regardless of the weather.
The atrium will feature five new restaurants, Froese said, including:
- Kate and Emma's, for sandwiches and wraps
- Infusion Coffee and Bakery
- Pomodoro, for pizza and pasta
- Sunshine Sushi
- Del Mundo, for Brazilian barbecue and carved meats
Froese said the dining options were chosen based on student input from Campus Dining Services.
The student center's current dining facility, Truman's Takeout, offers limited seating within the bookstore. The new dining area will seat 600, giving students more space than what is currently available.
"They would like a place to sit down and eat, and the transitional place only has seats for about 40 or 50 people," Froese said.
Some students have noticed these cramped quarters. On Friday afternoon, MU senior Christy Beil was waiting for a friend outside Truman's Takeout.
"During lunch, around 11 or 12, the sitting area is really crowded so it's hard to find a table," she said.
MU junior Kirby Crick said she sometimes stops in the student center after her classes. She said she hopes the new level will accommodate more students because other lounge and study areas of campus attract crowds.
"Hopefully it won't be as crazy as the library," Crick said.
Froese said the new section of the student center will quell these crowds.
"I think we're fortunate that there are a lot of different places students can go on campus, like Memorial Union and the library, but this will definitely alleviate some of that congestion," Froese said.
The current student center set up requires students to go around construction to reach dining and restroom facilities, but Froese said that opening the main level of the Student Center will make public restrooms and the bookstore more accessible.
"It's really going to make it a lot more convenient with students going back and forth across campus," Froese said.
Crews completed the first stage of construction on the renovated student center in January 2009. It holds the University Bookstore and some department of student life offices.
Froese is optimistic that progress will continue ahead of schedule for the remainder of the student center's construction.
"We're hoping that if this main level opens in August, then hopefully by the end of December the other portion of phase 2 will be ready," she said.
The final section of the student center is scheduled to open spring 2011. It will include a convenience store, study and meeting rooms, the Mizzou Traditions Lounge, a restaurant called Mort's Grille and The Shack, a games and programming area.
Froese said the student center will also provide new offices for the Center for Social Justice and student media.