Belmont breaks ground on $55M academic and dining services complex

Building is latest in post-2003 on-campus construction valued at $442M

Belmont University officials broke ground today on a $55 million academic and dining services complex, the latest in a string of projects that began in 2003 and are valued at $442 million.

The complex, a name for which has not been announced and which is aiming for LEED certification, is expected to open for the fall semester of 2015. It will sit next to the recently opened Baskin Center, which houses the BU College of Law. ESa is handling design work, while R.C. Mathew Contractor is the builder.

The dining services segment of the development will represent one part of a four-story 116,000-square-foot building and will provide a seating capacity that is 2.5 times larger than that of the existing campus cafeteria. Campus dining services provider Sodexo is investing more than $10 million in the construction as part of its ongoing partnership with Belmont.

Classrooms and faculty/staff offices will comprise approximately 70 percent of the building. Several academic programs — including music business and media studies — have been invited to submit proposals for how occupying the new space could creatively enhance their efforts.

“Like all of our projects, this new complex is being designed to add to the quality of life and the improvement of learning for the entire Belmont community, especially our students, “ BU President Bob Fisher said in a release. “I’m proud that these additions to our physical campus also impact our local economy and culture, creating thousands of jobs right here in Nashville and further cementing our city’s reputation as the Athens of the South.”

The new facility will also include the construction of a 1,000-space underground parking garage. With the addition, Belmont will have increased its on-campus parking by more than 4,800 spaces since 2003. Site preparation has begun and blasting for the garage is scheduled to begin April 1.

Similarly, BU is planning a residence hall to be constructed on the east side of 15th Avenue across from Kennedy Hall. The six-story building will include 354 additional parking spaces in a garage adjacent to the Thrailkill Parking Garage. Construction is expected to begin later this month, and the residences should be ready for occupancy by fall of 2014.

Currently, Belmont’s tentatively named Wedgewood Academic Center is under construction at the southeast corner of  Wedgewood and 15th avenues. It will house most departments from the College of Arts and Sciences as well as the School of Religion. Slated to open in fall 2014, the building will also include a five-level underground parking garage and will connect to both the Inman Center and McWhorter Hall.

Within the past 10 months, BU, now home to more than 6,600 students, has opened the aforementioned Baskin Center, Horrell Hall and Dickens Hall, while renovating McAfee Concert Hall.