Future of the Tilly

Fred Monrean/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 1, 2011

Sam Schmidt scoops salad at the Lola Tilly Comons on Oct. 19, 2011. Fred Monrean Jr./Sun Star

Some fresh ideas simmer for community dining on campus. If all goes according to plan at Facility Services, the University of Alaska Fairbanks’s main dining establishment may soon move from its current building, the Lola Tilly Commons, to one more centrally located.

Using an new method of building procurement, the new structure may cost the university little.

“It’s getting kind of old, and they are trying to revamp student services on campus as part of a constant effort of improvement,” ASUAF President Mari Fritag said.

According to Dining Service’s website “all residence hall students are required to purchase a meal plan, with the exception of residents living in Cutler Apartment Complex and graduate students.” For many that necessitates an icy dark walk to lower campus.

“I live in MBS complex, and after I’m all loaded up with food, I’m not particularly inclined to move at all,” freshman Jacob Lauer said. Lauer thinks the new location will be “very centralized, being so close to the Wood Center, the library and the Gruening Building means many of the other facilities are right around there,” he said.

The plan is to construct the building between the west side of the William R. Wood Campus Center and South Chandalar Drive.

The new dining facility building could be bought using a “public-private partnership” described by Scott Bell, the assistant vice chancellor for Facility Services as “a different way of purchasing buildings.” A new dormitory is also in the works, and will be built at the same time and by the same company as the dining facility.

Two development teams are competing for the contract.

Anchorage-based Arctic Student Life and Perkis and Will, a nationwide firm, traveled to Fairbanks during the last week of October and invited students to focus groups to better tailor their proposals for UAF students.

The event remained mostly behind closed doors to ensure that nether development team could get an unfair advantage.

Each group will soon serve up a set of plans and a cost estimate. A selection committee working for UAF will compare the proposals and make a determination based on economics and the quality of the buildings the teams propose.

“The terms of the lease will be a critical part of the decision,” Bell said.  According to Bell, the firm selected will build both a new housing and dining facility on campus. They will also finance both structures, initially covering all of the construction costs.

“Once completed, the university will lease the buildings back from the selected firm,” Bell said. “The intent being that what the students pay for housing and dining will cover the cost of the lease.”  When the lease reaches its expiration date, “the building will become property of the university.”

The firms are still putting their proposals together, so there are no blueprints or accurate cost estimates available at this time, but by the end of January Bell expects “that the concepts will be far enough along so we can see what we will be getting.” The selection committee will present their conclusion to the Board of Regents for their approval.

The new building should be on track for completion by the spring of 2013, at which point the Tilly may become office space, according to Bell.

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2 Responses

  1. Daniel says:

    But will the food suck less?

  2. Hannah says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous, and SUCH a waste of money and administrative time. The Tilly is already incredibly close to MBS complex, and moving it to the main part of lower campus would not shorten the distance any appreciable amount. Isn’t health a concern on campus? I don’t see any problem with making students walk a whole five minutes to eat a meal. Please focus on other things, like making campus zero-waste or growing ALL of campus’s food produce and building a root cellar to store it for the winter months.

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