Knight’s Plaza is getting a complete makeover, said UCF spokesman Mark Schlueb.
The renovations will include a large Pegasus seal on the ground in front of the arena made of black granite tiles, six new planters, along with a couple new fountains and a new shaded seating area to replace the current seating area to the left of the arena.
“There was a feeling that the plaza was getting a little stale,” Schlueb said. “[The school] wanted to kind of give it a new look and also provide some additional seating areas for outdoor relaxation for students ... the plaza came when the arena was built in 2007 but, you know, there was a feeling that especially on that side of campus there needed to be more lounge areas.”
The pillars on the corners of East and West Plaza Drive will be retrofitted to add “flame bowls” at the top and will be powered by natural gas lines. Schlueb said the bowls will have flames from 4 to 10 feet high and will be lit during special events.
“At the street level, there will be TV monitors that will show what’s going on in the arena and, I imagine, advertise future shows,” Schlueb said.
The renovations will cost around $2.6 million dollars and are expected to be completed by the end of August in time for the beginning of the fall 2016 semester. The money for the construction is coming from the university’s auxiliary revenues, such as housing and parking services, and the business services department, which handles the leasing space on campus and receives money from rent paid by businesses.
Schlueb said that the funding for Knight’s Plaza is not related to tuition or tax revenue.
UCF is set to gain a Pollo Tropical near the Recreation and Wellness Center in January 2017, Schlueb said.
The grassy area near the left of the building isn’t going to be there for much longer, as it’s going to be replaced by a two-story building housing a Pollo Tropical and Café Bustelo.
“We have more students every year, and there's a need for additional food service options on that South side of campus,” Schlueb said.
The addition will cost a total of $3.3 million, with $2.5 million being funded by Aramark. The remainder of the cost is going to be covered by the business services department in a deal similar to the Knight’s Plaza renovation.
Schlueb said that the Aramark agreement with the Union covers most food service options on campus and that this is related to the deal. The Aramark agreement will add Chili’s, Steak ‘n Shake, Which Wich and Panda Express to the Union.
This addition will have indoor and outdoor seating, with outdoor seating being covered like the seating outside of Chick-Fil-A in the John T. Washington Center.
The building will be around 3,200 square feet, Schlueb said, and is being designed to achieve a Silver certification from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, also known as LEED. UCF made a green commitment in 2007; the current goal is to use renewable resources to power 15 percent of UCF’s energy consumption by 2020.
“UCF President John C. Hitt signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, making UCF one of the first to pledge to be climate neutral by 2050,” Schlueb said.
The addition to Garage C is expected to be completed this August. Originally expected to finish in July, the construction will add an elevator and 600 additional spaces.
Garage C currently has 1,290 spaces and will have 1,890 spaces upon completion. The project was estimated to cost around $9 million. Parking and Transportation Services is paying for the expansion through money collected from parking permits, parking citations and the transportation access fee that is a part of student tuition dollars, which is currently $9.10 per credit hour, as reported in a previous Future article. There are 18,263 parking spots on main campus, 11,313 of which are available to students and 1,898 of which are solely for faculty and staff.
In the 2014-15 year, UCF Parking Services and Transportation collected $20.5 million in revenue. Money earned from parking tickets totaled $1,024,687. Though the parking ticket revenue decreased from $1,167,678, parking is still an issue for many students.
To help with the decrease in parking spaces due to construction, UCF has implemented a new program called Park and Ride through which students can park in lot E4 and shuttles will transport passengers to the Health and Public Affairs shuttle stop every 15 minutes.
A 2014 survey conducted by the Future showed that 74 percent of survey participants had missed class due to parking issues, 60 percent said their grades had been negatively impacted by the lack of available parking and 54 percent said that they had parked illegally in order to make it to class on time.
Alissa Smith is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @thealissasmith or email her at AlissaS@centralfloridafuture.com.