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ECSU to demolish 'The Complex': Former housing to be razed

062918ecsufacilitiesComplex

A former student housing area on the Elizabeth City State University campus known as "The Complex," shown here Tuesday, has been slated for demolition.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Friday, June 29, 2018

Elizabeth City State University will soon begin razing a group of worn-out apartment buildings on campus as a new dormitory courtyard takes shape — all part of plans to make the campus more hospitable for a growing number of students.

Interim ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon told the ECSU Phase 2 Working Group this week that the dormitory courtyard will be a good gathering place for students.

The courtyard, which is near completion, is being constructed on a lot facing the campus’s former pharmacy building and previously used as a parking lot for student housing.

Demolition of The Complex — as the group of seven apartment-style student housing buildings located near the center of campus is known — is slated to begin in the next few weeks. The work is being funded with $299,000 in state funding for campus repair and renovation. The contractor on the project is Whitehurst Sand and the demolition is expected to be complete in September.

The Complex buildings were taken out of service in May 2015.

Work is being finished right now on the new University Suites Courtyard, a $141,000 project being built by Whitehurst Sand and CB Plumbing.

The campus’s front entrance also is being updated and enhanced because of its importance as a first impression for visitors, including students, prospective students and their families. Dixon said the university is seeking a “dynamic look” for the front entrance to the university.

Attention also is being paid to landscaping around campus buildings, and students and visitors are remarking that they notice and appreciate those special touches, Dixon said.

Dixon also noted that the wall next to the meeting room on the third floor of the Thorpe Administration Building has been painted Viking Blue and features the ECSU logo.

The cafeteria and other areas frequented by students also have been given a new look, including new furniture.

“We want students to love where they live and learn,” Dixon said.

The university is using NC Connect Bond funds approved by voters in a statewide referendum in 2016 to fund a complete renovation of Moore Hall, estimated to cost $8.5 million, and partial renovation of the G.R. Little Library, estimated to cost $4.5 million.

Moore Hall, built in 1922 and named for the institution’s first president, P.W. Moore, houses classrooms and academic offices.

The library is being renovated only partially because of plans to build a new library building as capital funds become available. ECSU will continue to use the G.R. Little building for other purposes after the new library is constructed.

The university plans to begin construction on the NC Connect Bond projects in October and re-open the buildings in December 2019.

Other work on campus is being funded with roughly half of a $20 million loan the university — through the ECSU Foundation and ECSU Housing Foundation LLC — are securing from the U.S Department of Agriculture rural development section. The other half of the USDA loan will be used to restructure existing housing-related debt in order to improve the university’s cash flow.

Heading the list of USDA projects is complete renovation of Bias Hall at a cost of $8.2 million. In addition, $843,000 is being allocated from the USDA loan proceeds to demolish Hugh Cale Hall and Doles Hall.

For the USDA projects the projected timeline calls for construction to begin in January 2019 and the buildings to re-open in fall 2020.

Josh Lassiter, ECSU’s vice chancellor of business and finance, told the working group he believes the university will have a commitment of the loan funds from USDA in 30-45 days.

Jeanette Evans, president of the ECSU Foundation, asked Lassiter if he is confident the money from USDA will be sufficient to complete all the work.

Lassiter said he is “extremely confident” it will.

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