With the demolition of the Belk Tower set for winter break in December, Chancellor Phil Dubois addressed the UNC Charlotte Student Government Association (SGA) student senate Nov. 5 about the controversial decision to tear down the tower.
Dubois announced the demolition of the tower in an email in mid-October. The email cited “significant structural issues,” and said the tower “posed a potential safety hazard.”
Dubois elaborated on the structural issues during the meeting.
“It’s a series of concentric concrete donuts stacked on top of each other, held together by metal plates,” he explained. “The metal plates are wearing and may break, particularly if we had a high wind event.”
The demolition is estimated to cost $128,000 and will take a couple of weeks, according to UNC Charlotte Associate Director of Media Relations Buffie Stephens.
DH Griffin Companies has been hired to complete the demolition project.
Dubois is forming a committee to gather ideas for the redesign of what will be called the Belk Plaza.
“The committee will be formulated this semester,” said Dubois. “I’ve already asked your president for the names of some students to be considered on that task force.”
Dubois added that the committee will be made up of faculty, staff, students and alumni.
Additionally there will be three public forums for members of the UNC Charlotte community to voice their opinions and ideas for the plaza.
One idea already suggested is to memorialize the tower in the redesign of the plaza or to place it at the Harris Alumni Center at Johnson Glen.
Dubois hopes the plaza can be a special area on campus for students and faculty to grow and learn.
“Moving forward, we can have a much more beautiful, memorable and useful area of campus by taking a little time to be thoughtful about what it would look like,” said Dubois.
As for the cost of the redesign of the plaza, Dubois said it is too soon to know for sure but he relies on past experiences for a rough estimate.
“How much will it cost,” he asked. “ I don’t know, but my experience around here tells me it’s going to be 1-2 million dollars to fix that plaza.”
Dubois added, “If we were to spend a million dollars on the tower, that would be a million dollars we couldn’t spend on something else around here.”
Over 3,000 alumni and students responded to the survey created to gauge interest of purchasing remembrance items of the Belk Tower. Most were willing to pay between $10 and $49 for a piece of the tower.
A final design for the plaza is expected by May 2016.