While it may be a few years before students are running around the new Southeast Recreational Facility, the University of Wisconsin continues to make strides in building the facility as the Wisconsin Building Commission approved the project Wednesday.
The new $96.5 million SERF project plan provides more space for students, compared to the current building, according to a building commission statement.
Aaron Williams, assistant campus planner and zoning coordinator, said in an email to The Badger Herald that construction on the new SERF is set to begin in October 2017. Students can expect to use the facility in January 2020.
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John Horn, director of Rec Sports, said the team working on the new SERF believes the project will cost more than the $87.5 million originally planned. A $9 million budgetary increase approved earlier this month by the UW Board of Regents. The additional money comes from unused Memorial Union project funds.
The SERF reconstruction was a project initiated by students starting in 2011, Horn said. He said many students are excited about the project.
“The student government funded a master plan and said, ‘Please study [the RecSports] buildings. They’re not meeting our needs,'” Horn said. “Then they told us they would like to go to referendum and they approved it with an alarming approval — with 87 percent approval — in the largest referendum on the campus.”
Horn said the new facility will not be called “SERF,” but rather will be named after a lead donor or the donor’s family.
The project team is currently preparing for the construction document phase, Horn said. Once final documents are drafted, the project will be put out for bids. This will likely occur in the spring or early summer, he said.
In the meantime, exercise equipment from the SERF will move to the Natatorium, the Shell and Ogg residence hall before construction begins, Horn said.
The Natatorium and Shell hours will expand allowing students time to work out during construction, Horn said. Phillips Lounge in Ogg Hall will be used as an area for people to do exercises like strength training and cardio.
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The new SERF will have an eight-basketball-court gymnasium, according to a UW quarterly report. The new building will also have an indoor walking and jogging track.
Also in the report, the new SERF will include several multi-purpose rooms in the building and a 50-meter competition pool with a separate diving well.
“Every time we show it in a presentation to groups, the response is overwhelmingly positive,” Horn said. “People are very excited.”