Jacob Baum

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Jacob is involved with the Student Government Association at UNC Charlotte.

Woman raped at gunpoint at 49 North Student Apartments

On June 22 at approximately 2 a.m., a woman was kidnapped and raped at gunpoint just feet from UNC Charlotte’s campus at 49 North Student Apartments, according to a press release from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department. 

The 21-year-old woman was in the parking lot of 49 North Apartments, located in the 1200 block of Rebecca Bailey Drive along University City Boulevard, when a suspect forced his way into the victim’s car. He then told her to drive to several ATMs before raping her.

The victim was able to escape her attacker near the intersection of North Tryon Street and University City Boulevard; however, the suspect stole the victim’s vehicle and used it to flee from  Charlotte Mecklenburg Police. After a short pursuit, the suspect ditched the stolen vehicle and escaped police on foot.

On June 24, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department arrested a 15-year-old suspect in relation to this incident. The suspect was not immediately identified but was charged with three counts of first-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping as well as robbery with a dangerous weapon. The suspect had already been released on bond with an electronic monitor for an unrelated felony charge.

This incident is the latest in a series of off-campus violent crimes troubling University City. One week prior to the kidnapping and sexual assault, Charlotte Mecklenburg Police responded to a shots-fired call at the Panera Bread just 250 feet from campus. 

On Memorial Day weekend there was a shooting at the Flats at Mallard Creek, an off-campus student housing development. A gunman fired multiple rounds into a crowd of hundreds of people at a pool party while asking the crowd “if they want to die.” 

The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department announced they would increase patrols at local student housing developments in light of the recent violence, effective June 1. It was not immediately clear if police were conducting patrols at 49 North during the night in question. Student housing complexes Haven49, University Crossing, University Walk and Boulevard98 all have had a regular police presence since June 1.

House Bill 241: UNC System seeks $200 Million for system-wide improvements

In the state’s capitol, lawmakers have introduced House Bill 241 to bring additional funding to the UNC System, as well as to public schools across the state and even some community colleges.

The UNC System has requested $200 million for “various statewide renovations, repairs and new construction.” The bill does not specify how that funding will be divided across the UNC System. In January, UNC Charlotte Spokesperson Buffie Stephens addressed the proposal via an email to the Niner Times stating: “Every year the UNC System asks all campuses to submit capital project funding requests to them. The System compiles and makes the request to the General Assembly on behalf of all campuses. UNC Charlotte requested $45 million in funding for the Cameron and Burson buildings.”

On top of UNC Charlotte’s request to the North Carolina General Assembly, UNC Charlotte recently hosted various local lawmakers on campus. On Jan. 18, the Chancellor’s Office hosted members of the General Assembly for lunch and a tour of campus. The following month, UNC Charlotte hosted leaders from the North Carolina Senate on campus as well at an unannounced event in the Harris Alumni Center. In a press release, UNC Charlotte also confirmed that more than 30 legislators from the Charlotte region attended a recent dinner hosted by Chancellor Philip L. Dubois and the UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees in Raleigh, North Carolina. On March 13, UNC Charlotte hosted Governor Roy Cooper on campus for a tour of the Burson Building.

UNC Charlotte told the Niner Times that, “While in Raleigh, Dubois and Keeter met with Sen. Dan Bishop, Sen. Kathy Harrington, Sen. Todd Johnson, Rep. Becky Carney and Rep. Jason Saine to advocate for the University’s 2019 legislative priorities.”

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip Dubois spoke about the meeting with state legislators in the press release: “It was very heartening to see the passion and excitement of our regional legislators for UNC Charlotte and I was greatly encouraged by their support of our priorities,” he said. 

Stephens went on to add “UNC Charlotte continues to advocate for the University’s number one priority the repairs and renovations to the Cameron and Burson buildings which are needed to keep pace with the growth of our students in the sciences and computer science fields. The University is appreciative that the Senate and House leadership as well as Governor Roy Cooper acknowledge the need for capital for repairs and renovations on the UNC campuses.”

House Bill 241 is officially titled the “Education Bond Act of 2019.” It includes $200 million in funding for the UNC System, $1.5 billion to the County School Systems across North Carolina, as well as $200 million for community colleges across North Carolina. The General Assembly is proposing that North Carolinians vote on this bond referendum in the 2020 Election Year.

The last time a bond referendum was used was in 2016 when North Carolina voters approved the “Connect NC Bond,” which appropriated $2 billion in funding. $90 million of this money was for UNC Charlotte’s new science building, which is currently under construction on UNC Charlotte’s main campus where the old Parking and Transportation Services building used to be.

The legislation was introduced February 28, 2019 and approved March 5. However, the bill still has to appear before various committees and is still in the initial stages.

On March 6, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper proposed $500 million for the UNC System, more than double the initial request by the North Carolina General Assembly. Governor Cooper announced via Twitter, “If we set the right priorities, we can value our teachers, build schools for the future and expand Medicaid, all with no new taxes on North Carolina’s people.”

On top of the $500 million allocated to the UNC system, Governor Cooper’s proposal includes $500 million for community colleges and nearly $2 billion for North Carolina Public Schools.

The North Carolina General Assembly placed House Bill 241 on the calendar for March 13, 2019, however; after the public proposal from the Governor it was withdrawn from the docket, and is being sent back to committee to reconsider how to move forward.

Students voice concerns over safety

A report published by the City of Charlotte shows that the intersections around UNC Charlotte are statistically some of the most hazardous in the city. Now, UNC Charlotte students and local residents are demanding answers from local leaders. The Niner Times has obtained over fifty complaints that have been filed addressing the persistent problems with the roads and intersections both on and off campus.

The safety concerns from local residents directly affect the thousands of students that attend UNC Charlotte. Campus concerns submitted to the City of Charlotte regard speeding and pedestrian safety. Off campus, the concern is even higher as students have to cross major roadways like University City Boulevard, North Tryon Street and Mallard Creek Church Road to get to campus each and every day.

Some concerns stem from a string of recent accidents. Nearly an hour into the new year, University City had already seen its first traffic fatality. On Jan. 1, a man walking on North Tryon Street was hit by multiple vehicles. After the first impact, the man was thrown 50 feet; the vehicle fled the scene. Another vehicle hit the man and he was thrown an additional 60 feet. The third and final vehicle hit the man, dragging him over a thousand feet. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police and other emergency responders rushed to the scene; however, the man was pronounced dead upon arrival. On Jan. 16, another pedestrian was hit on Mallard Creek Church Road and rushed to the hospital.

These recent accidents brought light to the hazardous intersections that directly surround UNC Charlotte. According to Charlotte’s High Accident Location List, four local intersections are among the most dangerous in the entire city. The most dangerous intersection in Charlotte is at Reagan Drive and Tom Hunter Road. This intersection has been reviewed by the NC Department of Transportation who developed an all-way stop plan to remediate the situation. However, other intersections, like the one at John Kirk Drive and University City Boulevard, have had at least 144 accidents in the past three years and there are no plans to change or fix the intersections. W.T. Harris and North Tryon Street as well as North Tryon Street and University Pointe Drive are also local intersections on the High Accident Location List.

In public safety complaints released by the City of Charlotte, residents and students brought various concerns to the attention of the City of Charlotte for the roads on and directly surrounding UNC Charlotte. One resident said, “The signaling pedestrian crossing does not work, [making it] very dangerous to cross the road,” while another resident said, “I can’t cross the street from my parking lot without almost getting hit. There are no sidewalks or crosswalks. Very dangerous. Plus, drivers are always speeding in this area.” In total, there are over 22 complaints specifically addressing pedestrian safety in recent months.

Other complaints focused on issues such as speeding or traffic lights. One resident said “drivers consistently run red lights at this intersection” and noted that “speeding is a serious problem.”

UNC Charlotte’s Police Department addressed the concerns. Deputy Chief of Police Joshua Huffman said in a statement to the Niner Times, “Students can aid the police department in addressing these issues by reporting their traffic concerns directly to us. If there is a particular area where violations are frequently occurring, we want to know about it. Officers can be directed to increase patrols and enforcement activity in those areas to address violations.”

Huffman added, “The UNC Charlotte Police Department takes the safety of both pedestrians and motorists very seriously. Those who operate vehicles on campus must abide by state traffic laws. In order to ensure compliance with those laws and maximize safety for the campus community, officers conduct traffic stops on motorists who commit violations of the law. Officers utilize directed and saturated patrols to target high traffic areas where violations are likely to occur. Those caught violating traffic laws may face University sanctions, state citations or even arrest depending upon the severity of the offense.”

The City of Charlotte is also trying to address the problem with a new program called Vision Zero which was started in Sweden in 1997. It is a strategy to eliminate all traffic-related deaths and severe injuries while increasing safety, health and mobility for all. Vision Zero focuses on how people naturally behave. According to the program’s mission statement, people make mistakes but mistakes should not be fatal.

Vision Zero explains that “over the past ten years, our city has seen explosive population growth, adding close to 200,000 more drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to our streets, paths and intersections. Charlotte has responded by creating a variety of safe ways for people to move around the city and connect with each other – we’ve upgraded intersections, added more bike lanes and built additional sidewalks – as we continue to work towards the best possible transportation and pedestrian safety systems for our growing city.”

Crashes and fatalities not only take a toll on human life, but also on the city’s capital, affecting loved ones, health care facilities, businesses and many other areas of our community.

That’s why Charlotte is renewing its commitment to safer streets in 2019 with the creation of Vision Zero, an action plan designed to reduce crashes and eliminate traffic-related deaths and severe injuries by 2030. Why? Because even one traffic-related death is too many.

Man shot in front of UNC Charlotte Center City Campus

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has confirmed to the Niner Times that one individual was shot in an apparent drive-by shooting in front of the UNC Charlotte Center City building on January 31. CMPD also confirmed that multiple bullets hit the building, breaking windows but not injuring anyone inside.

Just after 9:30 this morning, UNC Charlotte placed its Center-City Building on lockdown and issued a “NinerAlert” to inform all students and staff of the developing situation. Many students expressed alarm on social media and on UNC Charlotte’s main campus.

The alert message read “Center City Building is on Lockdown. Shots fired in vicinity. Avoid area until further notice. CMPD is on scene investigating.”

At a press conference, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police announced that an individual went to the hospital with a non-life threatening gunshot wound to the buttocks and that the shooting is not connected to the University. They went on to add that the shooting happened around 9:10 AM, nearly twenty minutes prior to the University sending out the lock-down notification. The incident is described as a drive-by shooting; car drove up and opened fire on the individual, impacting the UNC Charlotte building multiple times. CMPD said they “flooded the area” after the shots fired call came in.

Police are currently reviewing the cameras in the area for additional details on the shooting and hope to find a suspect soon.

UNC Charlotte removed the lock-down around 10 AM citing no active threat in the area. The investigation is ongoing and no arrest has been made. 

University owned land brings new opportunities for future growth

Since 2009, UNC Charlotte has known that it may have to expand to two large parcels of land located directly next to the University, and as UNC Charlotte nears 30,000 students and continues to grow, the plan to expand the University’s main campus and utilize the land remains unclear.

The 2009-2010 UNC Charlotte master plan highlights the goal to develop nearly 106-acres of land owned by the State of North Carolina to create the “Mallard Creek Village.” The master plan explains, “The 106-acre parcel along Mallard Creek Church Road presents several opportunities for the University. However, there are significant issues of floodplains within the site that limit where development may occur.”

 

Photo courtesy of UNC Charlotte Master Plan

The owner of a key parcel that would provide access to the University’s current property sold the land to an outside developer in 2009. Today, the Flats at Mallard Creek, an off-campus apartment complex, sits in front of UNC Charlotte’s land. 

The master plan goes on to explain that “this area off Mallard Creek Church Road will become an additional asset for the University.”

UNC Charlotte Spokesperson Buffie Stephens said in a statement that “a specific use for the 106 acres has not been identified.” Stephens went on to add, “The land has not been removed from planning, but the time frame for development is undetermined.”

With the future of the land unclear, so are many other elements of UNC Charlotte’s future. The current long-term master plan is nearly a decade old and the University confirmed to the Niner Times that it currently does not have plans for a new master plan in the near future.

Photo courtesy UNC Charlotte Master plan

UNC Charlotte also has access to an estimated 143 acres of wooded area on the northern edge of its main campus with an additional 100 acres of wooded area on its southern edge. However, much of the land is a floodplain, making it difficult to turn into usable space for an expansion.

The last major expansion of UNC Charlotte was the acquisition of a second campus. The second campus, named UNC Charlotte Center City, was bought in 2011 for $50.4 million and is home to a variety of graduate programs.

More recently, the Niner Times obtained documents confirming that UNC Charlotte is currently focusing on renovating current buildings rather than expanding. UNC Charlotte recently requested state funding for the renovation of the Cameron and Burson buildings. That request has drawn criticism from some students because UNC Charlotte spent nearly $13 million to renovate the Burson Building in 2016.

“I think the renovations the University is doing are a waste of money,” said Matthew Parker, a student. “Why would we renovate a building that we just renovated a few years ago? I think it is more reasonable to invest in new buildings that we won’t have to renovate and repair as often.”

Other students support UNC Charlotte’s continued expansion and renovation process. Freshman Peter Martin said, “I think UNC Charlotte has some of the best facilities in the state, but there is room for improvement.” Martin went on to explain that “some parts of the campus are in much better condition than other parts.”

UNC Charlotte and the State of North Carolina have owned the land for over two decades. While there is no time frame or specific use for the area currently, it may become a vital part in the future growth of the University.

Greek Village fire, on-campus arrest and more

Jan. 23

Greek Village fire

The Delta Zeta Sorority house, otherwise labeled as Greek Village Building 13, experienced a fire due to burnt food in a toaster. Housing and Residence Life was able to put out the flames prior to officers arriving. There was minor damage to personal property.

Larceny in the Student Union

Officers responded to a report of larceny in the Student Union. Police are still investigating.

Jan. 22

South Deck breaking and entering

Two separate incidents of breaking and entering were reported in the South Village parking deck. Both individuals had items stolen from their vehicles. UNC Charlotte police are still investigating.

NT File Photo

Jan. 17

Individual communicating threats found with knife  

Officers responded to a residence hall in reference to a report of someone communicating threats. The offending party was issued a trespass order, a North Carolina state citation for possession of drug paraphernalia and another state citation for possession of a knife on educational property.

Jan. 16

Hit and run

Officers responded to a report of an on-campus hit and run. Police were able to track down the driver and issue a state citation.

On-campus arrest

An individual with an active warrant for their arrest was found on campus. UNC Charlotte police were able to apprehend the individual without incident.

Jan. 13

On-campus arrest

Officers responded to a call about an individual, who had been previously banned from campus, sleeping in the lounge area of a residence hall. The person was arrested for “Resist, Delay and Obstruction” for giving false information.

Jan. 5

On-campus arrest

An individual was charged and arrested by police for second degree trespassing.

Jan. 3

Reese Building breaking and entering

Officers took three separate reports of breaking and entering in reference to a series of incidents at the Reese Building. Police assume the building was broken into overnight.

In a statement to the Niner Times, Deputy Police Chief Josh Huffman said, “We highly suggest that students download the free Livesafe App to their mobile phones. This would allow them to immediately communicate with our dispatchers, anonymously report tips with pictures or videos and even provide GPS coordinates to incidents as they occur in real time.”

Additionally, the UNC Charlotte Police Department website states, “If you are the victim or a witness of a crime on campus, it is extremely important that you file a report with the Campus Police. Filing a report is easy. Simply call 704-687-2200 or stop by the Police Department which is located at 9151 Cameron Blvd, directly across from the Student Health Center.”

Revamping and rezoning in University City

As UNC Charlotte has grown, so has its economic impact on the University City region. A number of new commercial developments are coming to the area to meet the demand of the area’s ever-growing population.

Top Golf, a global sports entertainment community, submitted a petition to the Charlotte City Council for a new 13.2 acre entertainment district on McFarlane Boulevard. The University City Top Golf facility will feature 102 hitting bays for groups and has marketing programs aimed toward college students.

 

Proposed entertainment site

 

Top Golf tried to expand to the UNC Charlotte area in 2017 but stopped pursuing a University City location after an outcry of concerns from local residents at City Council meetings that the development would be built directly next to a historic cemetery.

Top Golf is not the only new business coming to the University City area. A Dallas-based fund-manager, EB Arrow, has acquired two large parcels of land directly next to UNC Charlotte. EB Arrow purchased University Place I and II for a total cost of $18.2 million and has already filed a petition with the City of Charlotte to rezone the land.

EB Arrow repositions commercial projects in prime locations that are suffering operational difficulties. Its mission statement explains that upon acquisition of land, each retail center will be renovated or redeveloped to add apartments, office buildings or hotels, or alternatively their operations will be optimized for value enhancement.

According to public records released by the City of Charlotte, EBA Crystal Real Estate LLC, which is affiliated with EB Arrow, has proposed a project with up to 300,000 square feet of commercial space, multiple parking decks, a library, 600 residential units and, potentially, a hotel.

 

EBA Investments proposal

One of the few confirmed new tenants for the development is the Armored Cow Brewery. The brewery will be a first for the University Area and will specialize in gluten-free beer. The Armored Cow will operate out of an already existing building at 8821 JW Clay Blvd., which will be directly across the street from EB Arrows development.

The University City Chick-Fil-A, which currently has a standalone location in the shopping center, has also filed a rezoning petition with the City Council to move from its current location to a new and larger location across the street to meet the high demand of customers. That petition to move to a new location was approved by the City Council late last year.

At the center of all the new commercial developments in the area is the University City Partners, which is an organization that implements strategies to drive University City forward. The University City Partners has been actively engaged in the new commercial developments and has a plan for the future growth and redevelopment of the area. When asked about EB Arrows’ redevelopment plan, a representative said, “While no two projects are alike, their basic formula is exactly what this site needs — more residents and office workers helping to create a strong center for University City.”  

Some students are thrilled for the new businesses that are moving to the area. “It will be great to be able to go out and have a good time without having to drive to [Up]town Charlotte or the Concord Mills area,” said Robert Mills, a sophomore. Mills went on to explain that, besides restaurants, the University City area lacks entertainment, such as a bowling alley, movie theater or other options for residents to explore in their free time.

The University City region does have a movie theater three miles away from the center of campus as well as a bowling alley nearly five miles away from campus, but nothing directly surrounding the University.  

The commercial developments are a direct result of UNC Charlotte’s continued growth and rapid expansion in the University City region. As the area continues to grow, so does the demand for places of entertainment.

UNC Charlotte’s list of potential capital projects

Documents obtained by Niner Times show UNC Charlotte has begun the initial phase of planning for over a dozen potential new capital projects.

A UNC Charlotte spokesperson confirmed to Niner Times that the University has requested $45 million from state legislators for the renovation of the Burson and Cameron buildings on campus. After the request for funding, UNC Charlotte also confirmed it hosted local representatives from the North Carolina General Assembly for lunch and a tour of campus on Jan. 18.

The hope is to revitalize UNC Charlotte’s main campus, which has over two dozen buildings listed as “poor condition.” Many of the buildings were built in the 1970s or 1980s and have begun to deteriorate and lose value.

The Facilities Condition Index displays the two dozen “poor condition” buildings indicated in red. Buildings represented in green are in “good condition.”

Facilities Condition Index

When asked about the potential projects, Kathryn Horne, the director of planning at UNC Charlotte, explained, “the Capital Renewal Deferred Maintenance (CRDM) tool tracks both current and potential projects and our needs for repair and renovations across campus. Information is compiled from multiple sources. It is also used to track our repairs and renovation needs and deferred maintenance needs.

Horne went on to explain, “It is important to note that being shown on CRDM in no way implies that it is a current project or will become a project in the future. Whether something on the list becomes a project is dependent on identifying funding. Part of the planning effort is prioritizing needs and potential projects and aligning them with available funds to implement those that are most crucial to the success of the University. Even if it does become a project, it is possible the timeline could be 20 years or more in the future.”

The following projects are listed as “prioritized planning” projects, meaning they are future projects identified but not yet underway.

Second Center City Building

One of the most expensive projects, called “Center City II,” is a second uptown location. UNC Charlotte records indicate that it is in the initial stages of a $98.5 million dollar building in Charlotte. The same records indicate that UNC Charlotte anticipates acquiring land in uptown Charlotte for an estimated $19.1 million. 

Arts and Humanities Building

A $95 million dollar Arts and Humanities building is also under works. The project states, “This new building will provide expanded facilities in support of the new College of Arts and Architecture. A new 1,500 seat performing arts facility is needed on campus to accommodate student body growth.”

Student Academic Success and Retention Center

This project will consolidate academic support services into a single, convenient location on campus. This project is listed at an estimated cost of $94.7 million.

Science Building Two

This building will be a separate project from the current science building which just began construction at an estimated cost of $90 million. This addition will cost an estimated $50 million. The description states, “This project will build upon the improvement provided by the bond referendum and add teaching and research capacity for growth of an estimated 35,000 students.”

Computing and Informatics Building

This new building will cost an estimated $48.5 million. It was designed because “a preliminary study has shown that the college will need 120,000 square feet of space for offices, teaching, research, student advising and engagement and other essential functions.”

Parking Deck K

This new parking deck is to be built in East Village and will cost $20.8 million.

Early College High School

This project will cost $20 million and the project description states, ”The Early College High School project is intended to provide a permanent building for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and UNC Charlotte shared initiative. Currently, CMS has a temporary facility to accommodate the Engineering Early College function on campus. This building will house two early college programs; one in engineering.”

New Entrance N. Tryon

This project will provide a new road connecting CRI to main campus at Cameron Boulevard and adds a third entrance on the Tryon/Highway 29 side of campus. This project is estimated at a cost of $10.8 million

Cone Center Renovation

At an estimated cost of $36 million, this project will modernize and overhaul the Cone Center.

Storrs Building Expansion

This project will create additional seminar, studio and office space for the College of Architecture and cost an estimated $40 million.

Additional Projects:

Engineering Innovation Hall $46.8 million

Prospector Renovation $3 million

Crown Commons Renovation $2.5 million

Friday Building Renovation $29 million

Smith Building Renovation $15 million

Cameron Building Renovation $26 million

Colvard Building Renovation $14 million

UNC Charlotte did not speculate on any other details of the project or a time frame of any of these projects and are still in the planning phase of development.

Some students are excited to see the changes coming to campus. “It is really cool to see all the changes being made to this campus. When I first got here many of these buildings were not here,” said Noah Adams, a junior. “It seems like a few weeks go by and UNC Charlotte is either tearing a building down or putting a new one up.”

According to UNC Charlotte public records, the University is currently still in the middle of its five-year capital construction plan. That plan has fifteen projects incomplete still which includes the new Science Center, Admissions and Visitor Center, as well as the University Recreational Center, all of which will be complete in late 2019 or 2020.

More information is expected after the next Board of Trustee meeting, which is set for Feb. 19 in Atkins Library.

University housing nears capacity

As the spring semester begins, hundreds of new freshmen and transfer students are joining UNC Charlotte. These new students are challenged to find housing, both on and off campus.

UNC Charlotte has 22 active on-campus residence halls ranging from traditional towers, suite-style and apartment-style rooms scattered across campus. Combined, the 22 residence halls are at 99 percent capacity, according to Dr. Aaron Hart, associate vice-chancellor for student affairs.

On Dec. 6, the Office of Housing and Residence life issued a statement, prompting students to worry if they would have a place to live come the start of the new semester.

“Due to overwhelming demand, we have a limited number of housing vacancies for spring 2019. New incoming students that have not applied for on campus housing yet or applied late in November should have back up housing plans in case we are unable to assign them a space.”

Hart explained that Housing and Residence Life was able to house every student who applied before the regular deadline for housing for the spring semester. At 99 percent capacity, there are still some rooms left; more available for females than for males.

“If you apply for housing, you might not always get your first or second option, but we will always work to find a place for you,” Hart said.

As the University approaches full capacity, Moore Hall is nearing demolition and its residents have been moved into new housing on-campus, occupying nearly 500 of the scarce on-campus bed spaces. Moore Hall opened in 1970 but is now being torn down along with Sanford Hall. The University is replacing the two older towers with a newer model designed by the same company who completed the Levine Hall Project. The new residence hall that will take its place is currently named Residence Hall XVI and is to be completed May 28, 2021.

Off-campus apartments are near capacity as well, even with the recent addition of private off-campus apartment community Haven49. Haven49 and University Crossings both have limited spaces available for the current academic year and have already begun leasing for next year.

The demand for housing in the area has led to the construction of three new apartment complexes in the University City area. The 2018 University City Partners Annual report highlights each of the new apartment complexes coming to University City.

Atapco Apartments

Location: 8310 University Executive Park Drive

Units: 280

Cost of construction: $50,000,000

Completion Date: Spring 2019

Description: The plan is for a 5-story, 280 unit building with structured parking adjacent to the McCullough transit station. Street-level shops and other commercial use will take 5,000+ sq. ft. of space facing North Tryon Street.  

University City Apartments at Tom Hunter

Location: 6919 N. Tryon Street

Units: 376

Cost of construction: $32,200,000

Completion Date: Spring 2017

Description: A new 376 unit apartment community adjacent to the University City Blvd transit station.

Oxford Gateway Apartments

Location: 7232 N. Tryon Street

Units: 332

Cost of construction: $874,350

Start date: Nov. 20, 2017

Completion date: Winter 2019

Description: Oxford properties is planning 302 apartment units in four-story buildings and 18 rental townhouses in three-story buildings.

 

The scarcity of housing in University City is a symptom of the rapid growth of UNC Charlotte and the greater Charlotte area. This fall, UNC Charlotte set an enrollment record of 29,710 students.

UNC Charlotte is not the only UNC-System Institution with a demand for more housing; NC Central was recently approved by the States Board of Governors for three new residence halls and UNC Asheville struggled to find housing for 294 students after one of its major residence halls was deemed uninhabitable by state authorities. Expansion is a goal of universities across the country but it brings about major challenges.

The path less travelled: UNC Charlotte’s underground tunnel

For some it’s just a rumor; for others it’s one of UNC Charlotte’s best kept secrets, found in the heart of campus just feet below the surface. The 150 foot underground tunnel connects the College of Health and Human Services building to the College of Education building.

The “Secret Tunnel” was constructed nearly two decades ago under former Chancellor Jim Woodward. During the planning and design process for the new College of Health and Human Services and College of Education buildings, it became clear that there was no space for a loading dock. The two buildings would be forced to share one loading dock, and former Chancellor Jim Woodward did not want service vehicles in the CHHS/COED Plaza, so the University created an underground tunnel to connect the two buildings. The system would allow for a direct route to make deliveries and transport supplies between the two buildings without disturbing the main entrances or the major walkways.   

Today, this tunnel is still operational and used daily by University staff. It is open and accessible for all students to use, according to Nathaniel Snodgrass, the Director of Facilities Operations.

The underground tunnel spans nearly 150 feet. If needed, it can serve as a shelter during a natural disaster or emergency, fitting up to as many as 250 people with access to a blue light emergency phone. It can be accessed from the ground floor, labeled as floor 0. The tunnel or service corridor is located in room 67, which is on the side of the building farthest from the Student Union.

When asked if there are any additional tunnels or similar features on campus, Snodgrass explained that, “There is an access area to and from the King building that goes through the Cone garage area under the building; however, it’s not a tunnel. This is fully accessible to all, but generally not used very often. There is also an abandoned fresh air intake between King and Reese; this area is secured and not accessible.”

The only other tunnel on or near campus is the recently opened Blue Line Extension tunnel, which allows the light rail to turn onto campus passing underneath N Tryon Street. That tunnel is nearly 1,100 feet long and not open to pedestrians.  

Many students are unaware of the underground tunnel. When asked where they think the tunnel is located, Sophomore Robert Mills speculated that, “A secret underground tunnel would be somewhere near the lower level of the Student Union or near Prospector and probably only be for University staff,” while sophomore Emma Wilson guessed, “An underground tunnel would be near the football stadium, or even inside the stadium for the football team or event workers to use during football games or events to avoid large crowds.”

Sophomore Amber Meyer had heard about the tunnel but has never been there. “An Orientation Counselor told me about the tunnel during Summer Orientation, but I have never needed to use it,” said Meyer. “I think because it wasn’t built for the purpose of being a pedestrian walkway, it isn’t useful to students. It would be great and useful to students if it went under Craver Road and connected to the Student Union to help cut down on traffic in that area.”

The tunnel at UNC Charlotte is not the only tunnel in the UNC System. NC State features a free expression tunnel which is covered with art and graffiti and promoted by the school for artists to decorate. Appalachian State in recent years has also created a makeshift free expression tunnel near its football stadium. UNC Charlotte does not currently allow for graffiti or art in this tunnel as it remains just a hidden pathway for supplies and a shortcut for professors.

UNC Charlotte professor files discrimination lawsuit

A UNC Charlotte professor has filed a discrimination lawsuit claiming his superior, who has ties to an alliance with the mission of improving the lives of women and girls in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, gave promotions to less-qualified female candidates.

Court documents show that on Nov. 13 UNC Charlotte staff member Dr. Coria-Sánchez filed a lawsuit in U.S. Federal Court citing discrimination on the basis of race and gender in the workplace.

Coria-Sánchez has been an associate professor in the Spanish Department at UNC Charlotte since 2001 and has had many publications in that time.

Carlos Coria Sanchez

Coria-Sánchez names his employer, UNC Charlotte, as the defendant and the failure to promote him as the primary cause of the lawsuit.

Coria-Sánchez goes on to state that UNC Charlotte discriminated against him on the basis of his sex, his national origin and his race. The lawsuit states that Nancy A. Gutierrez, the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has discriminated against him several times.

The full statement in the lawsuit reads, “In the past, Dean Gutierrez discriminated against the plaintiff when she denied him tenure and salary increases. This time Dr. Gutierrez is discriminating in Dr. Coria-Sánchez promotion to full professor. Dr. Gutierrez is not using the same standards that she used in the past to promote two white, European females to the rank of full professor. Dr Coria-Sánchez has the same or even more qualifications than these two professors when they were granted promotion; in specific more qualifications than former professor Marie Therese Nosiet.”

Gutierrez is the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Girls Research Alliance, a community-university alliance with the mission of improving the lives of women and girls in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region.

Dean Gutierrez

Coria-Sánchez has demanded a jury trial in the matter. He also sought relief from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who reviewed the information and was unable to make a conclusion in this case prior its filing in U.S. Federal Court.

Coria-Sánchez was not immediately available to return comment on the matter.

UNC Charlotte stated Tuesday that they would refrain from commenting on ongoing litigation.

UNC Charlotte crime at record lows

UNC Charlotte recently published its 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety report highlighting some of the lowest crime rates on campus in almost a decade. The annual report is created by the University Police & Public Safety Office with data submitted by various campus departments including Legal Affairs, Title IX, Housing & Residence Life, Environmental Health & Safety and the Counseling Center.

The report begins with a statement from Chancellor Philip Dubois: “It is up to each one of us to help foster a secure and supportive environment at UNC Charlotte — an environment where individuals can feel safe to visit, learn, work and live.”

The crime statistics in the report show that alcohol violations have dropped 57.66 percent since 2011. In 2011, alcohol violations reached an all-time high of 1025 violations for that year alone. UNC Charlotte reported record-low numbers in 2017 with 434 alcohol violations.

Drug violations have dropped 42.42 percent since 2012 but increased this past year. The amount of drug violations on campus peaked in 2012 with 330 cases and dropped to a low in 2015 with just 85 violations. Drug use is the only violation to increase on campus this year. In 2016, UNC Charlotte had 105 drug violations while last year UNC Charlotte had 190 drug violations.

The Crime Statistics in the report also show that forcible sex offenses or rape at UNC Charlotte are down 73.91 percent. In 2014, data shows the University had 46 counts of forcible sex or rape and in 2017 that number was 12.

Another highlight of the report shows that burglary at UNC Charlotte has decreased drastically since 2010. In 2010, there were 154 reported cases of burglary while in 2017 there were only 33 reported cases.

On-campus arson has also dropped 77.78 percent, with nine reported arson cases in 2010 and just two in 2017.

The widespread decrease in crime may be attributed to the The Police and Public Safety Department, which has a total of 55 sworn and 10 non-sworn employees as well as part-time personnel and student employees.

The Chief of Police, Jeffrey Baker, responded to the report detailing the record-low crime by saying, “I credit the results to some of the finest police officers I have had the pleasure to serve with at UNC Charlotte. They are 100% dedicated to providing our campus with the highest levels of safety and security possible.”

Baker also pointed out that crime has decreased while total enrollment has grown tremendously, an uncommon trend for rapidly growing communities.

In addition to new police initiatives, UNC Charlotte also has implemented the free “Live Safe” application for smartphones. The application provides immediate mobile access to police, fire and medical services. Safety features include buddy walks and access to safety tips. The service allows students to submit tips and communicate with the Police and Public Safety Department in real time.

UNC Charlotte’s police department has also recently been able to hold unique breaching exercises in on-campus buildings scheduled for demolition. Every UNC Charlotte police car is equipped with a standard breaching kit.

To read the full 2017 Security and Fire safety report, click here.

 

Da click aquí para la versión en español de este artículo.

 

President of the UNC System to step down

Margaret Spellings, the President of the UNC System, will step down effective March 1, 2019 according to the Board of Governors chairman Harry Smith.

The Board of Governors, which oversees 17 North Carolina universities, announced an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to discuss “personal matters.”

That emergency meeting took place Friday morning at the UNC System Office located in Chapel Hill, lasting just over two hours in a closed, executive session.

After the meeting, the Board of Governors announced that Margaret Spellings will resign her duties effective March 1st, 2019 — just three years into her five year contract with the UNC System.

When asked about her departure from the UNC System at a press conference Friday, Spellings said, “It was the right time for me.”

Spellings went on to add, “I came into this position intent on creating a culture of higher expectations and that shift is underway. But times change and those changes demand new leaders and new approaches.”

In the Board of Governors emergency meeting Friday, they agreed to a payment package in which she will receive a salary until March 1st along with a $500,000 payout and $35,000 in relocation expenses. Spellings will also receive a $77,500 retirement package.

The Board of Governors, appointed by the North Carolina General Assembly, now has to find a replacement for the 28 member group.

The Board has faced many struggles over the past few months. They came under fire this summer when they delayed in finding a candidate for the Western Carolina Chancellor position. For many weeks, the Board was dead-locked in “heated discussion.”

The struggles in the Board of Governors led to policy changes in the past months to help improve operations.

The next board meeting is scheduled for November 9 at the UNC System Office in Chapel Hill.

When asked about the situation, the Chancellor’s Office at UNC Charlotte was not immediately available to return a comment on the situation.

2018 Campus Construction Update

UNC Charlotte is the fastest growing university in the UNC system, contributing to more than half of the system’s total growth since 2009. The University itself has almost doubled in enrollment in the past decade as well as added numerous on-campus facilities during that time. With the help of increased enrollment and a $90 million bond approved for the University in 2015, UNC Charlotte will expand and grow now more than ever.

The Five-year Capital Construction Plan details the enormous construction effort, highlighting over 40 capital projects, road and utility improvements, core campus building renovations and major new construction that will come to the University. The plan was implemented in 2016 and is scheduled to last until 2021. Some of the projects include the Scott Hall renovations, the Belk Plaza revitalization and the new Facilities Operations and Parking Services Complex located next to North Deck. All of these originated out of the Five-year Capital Construction Plan and are scheduled for completion this month.

New science building to enter next phase of construction  

UNC Charlotte has launched its largest and most expensive project, a $101 million science center. The new facility has been in the initial phase of construction since the beginning of September and will be visible on Craver Road in October. The facility will house classrooms and research labs. The project is expected to be finished by November 2020 with an anticipated occupancy date of late 2020. It will be located on the corner of Mary Alexander and Craver Road, where the Parking and Transportation Services and Facilities Operations offices are. Those operations are relocating to a shared building near the light rail.

Payette, a company involved with the design of the science center announced recently that “The design of UNC Charlotte’s new Integrated Science Building reached a major milestone several weeks ago as the team wrapped up Design Development, working closely with our local architects at Clark Nexsen. As part of the Design Development package, the team finished the design and documentation of the building’s exterior envelop, and now will focus on the interior design and lab fit-outs.” 

Science Building

North Tryon entrance to be redesigned  

The campus entrance on North Tryon, otherwise known as the Charlotte Research Institute (CRI) entrance, will be redesigned to match the entrance on University City Boulevard in South Village. The Division of University Advancement announced the project will include a “UNC Charlotte sign, brick columns and enhancements to pedestrian access.” The project will cost $2.5 million and is already underway, scheduled to be complete by late December.  The other entrance to the University located on North Tryon will also be modernized as part of the new hotel and conference center project which was recently approved by the City Council of Charlotte.

North Tryon Entrance

Belk Plaza set to open with a ribbon cutting ceremony

The $2 million revitalization of Belk Plaza began construction in spring 2018 and continued over the summer. The project replaces Belk Tower, which was torn down in 2015 due to structural problems. The area will feature a large lawn area, a performance stage and a double-sided foundation. Final inspections are in progress and the ribbon cutting ceremony will take place in the coming weeks.

Belk Plaza

Admissions and Visitor Center added as enrollment continues to grow

As UNC Charlotte enters the fall semester with one of the largest freshman classes in the University’s history at 3,708 people, the University is in the process of building a new Admissions and Visitor Center. The construction is valued at $8 million. Currently, the roof is being installed and the interior frame completed. 

Health and Wellness Center will stay under construction throughout the year

Construction began over the summer on a new $66 million Health and Wellness Center located next to the Popp Martin Student Union. The 160,000-square-foot facility will include aerobic and weight training rooms, group fitness areas, courts, a pool and offices for intramural and recreational programs. The facility has been controversial among students, many of whom say the facility is unnecessary due to the two gyms already on campus; however, university officials say the building addresses a “current shortage of student health and wellness space.” The building is scheduled to be complete in July 2019.

Health and Wellness Center

East Village infrastructure project meets new challenges

Last spring, UNC Charlotte began a new project to redesign the roadways in East Campus near Martin Hall in order to to help moderate traffic. The project is currently authorized to spend over $5.5 million with the North Carolina Department of Transportation contributing $500,000 and the City of Charlotte Contributing $1.8 million. The design for the project relies on UNC Charlotte buying a piece of land which is currently owned by Adult Day Care. However, the University is not currently pursuing the land and if they are unable to obtain the property it will negatively impact the project.