With the start of the 2014 fall semester, UNC Charlotte students were promised a new dining hall to greet them on their arrival to campus. Unfortunately, and to many students’ surprise, they found that the South Village Crossing and SoVi had not yet been completed.
SoVi, located inside South Village Crossing, is the new dining hall located next to the freshman high rises. It was originally scheduled to be up and running with the start of the 2014 fall semester. However, the construction of the dining hall has met several delays even when it was still in the early stages of construction.
With the interior nearly completed, the only section of the building that must be finished is the stairs leading to the front entrance. The soil that the stairs are supposed to be built on was deemed to be unsuitable due to its weak composition and its lack of capacity to support the weight.
“If I had to pick one [issue], I would say the soil, and we’ve had some other things we’ve had to work through because it is a very complicated building inside, because of the combination of the equipment and the cooling systems. There’s a lot going on,” said Keith Wassum, associate vice chancellor for Business Services in the Division for Business Affairs.
Project managers determined that it was the debris of previous construction in the area several years ago that caused the soil to become unsuitable, but it is still relatively unclear. This has been a persistent problem for the team almost since day one. Although the rest of the building’s foundation does not suffer from such a condition, it has still caused major delays on the dining hall.
“This is a really difficult site … We did a whole master plan and if we would have built [the parking lot adjacent the construction site] well our life would have been a lot easier because it’s flat. So build on the hill with the suitable soil and the complexities of the building, there were a lot of challenges,” said Wassum.
South Village Crossing is comprised of two floors. The first floor is mostly seating while the second floor houses the main dining hall, SoVi. In the main dining hall, students will have several options that they can choose from.
Cooking at the various stations will take place in front of the students where they will be able to interact with chefs, which is different from what other dining options on campus provide. These stations will also give students more options to choose from and offer a variety of healthy eating options.
On the second floor students will find more seating and additional dining options. This floor will offer several dining options including: an on-site bakery, a convenience store (which will not be Outtakes, but similar to it), SoVi Market and Bakery and a take-out venue called SoVi2go, which will offer students quick meals to pick up on the go.
The Denny’s, or ‘The Den,’ that is included in the new dining hall is planned to stay open until 2 a.m., offering students more late night dining options on campus.
SoVi will be able to seat 800 plus customers, which is almost double what Crown Commons currently seats, with more room for additional seating if needed.
There will also be outdoor terrace space and multipurpose rooms that students can use. The function of these multipurpose rooms will be determined once students get a chance to experiment with them and decide what it is that students need most.
“[SoVi] has been designed with future growth in mind and will offer students the opportunity to dine and interact with a culinary team that will be serving up a variety of fresh and tasteful dishes,” said Director of Auxiliary Services Ana Alvarez.
Currently, discussions are going on about what will be done with the Residence Dining Hall (RDH) once SoVi is open. Although there are no concrete plans yet, there are several ideas that are still being considered such as refurnishing RDH for additional housing or turning it into a small fitness center. The Cone Center is a similar situation to RDH and is expecting an upgrade in the years to come.
South Village Crossing construction is expected to be finished and the dining hall open to students in either October or November of this year, although there is no confirmed date at this point.
Students may see an early opening, without the option of regular dining. This will give students an opportunity to explore the new dining hall before its official opening.
To find out more about SoVi, visit: http://aux.uncc.edu/dining.