HARRISONBURG — James Madison University has six big-ticket projects going on around campus this summer, costing more than $346 million.
The projects include the Wilson Hall renovation, an addition and renovation to Showker Hall, including the College of Business Learning Complex, a new residence hall, a retail dining facility to replace Phillips Hall and the Atlantic Union Bank Center with a parking lot.
“It’s unusual to have so many major projects going on all at the same time,” JMU spokesman Bill Wyatt said Monday, adding that there are no more anticipated large projects slated for the rest of 2019.
The new residence hall on the East Campus — Jennings Hall — will house 500 students come August when fall classes begin. The project costs $55 million.
The residency is named in honor of Paul Jennings, an enslaved African-American who served President James Madison at both Montpelier and the White House.
The last time JMU built student housing was in 2016 when the university built apartments on Grace Street, according to Wyatt.
He said there are currently 27 resident halls plus tree houses, which are housing for the Greek organizations. Not every Greek organization has its own house.
Wyatt said to many, it seems as though the university is continually building more apartments.
“The number of beds have grown a little bit — with the apartments on Grace Street and the Jennings Hall coming up — so it seems like we’ve expanded, but for each of those we have actually taken off resident halls,” he said.
When the Grace Street apartments opened, the Rockingham Hall was demolished and turned into parking. Rockingham Hall held about 200 beds.
“It was the old Howard Johnson Hotel on Port Republic Road,” Wyatt said. “We purchased it in the ‘90s, and the building had just outlived its useful life.”
With Jennings Hall opening up in less than two months, JMU demolished the old Chandler Hall, which is where the College of Business Learning Complex is being built.
The College of Business Learning Complex is a major addition to the existing Showker Hall, which is expected to open in the fall of 2020.
It will provide around 210,000 square feet of space, including new and refurbished classrooms and space for the digital marketing program.
It will also include cutting-edge technology for cybersecurity and an expanded Capital Markets Lab.
Other renovations to Showker Hall are expected to be completed in the fall of 2021. The entire project will cost $99 million.
The Wilson Hall renovation will cost $28.2 million and is expected to reopen in August.
Wilson Hall has not had any major renovations since its construction in 1931, according to Wyatt.
“Its auditorium will be restored to its original grandeur,” he said.
The building’s technology will be upgraded and the building has been designed to be the home of JMU’s History Department.
A retail dining facility replacement will take over Phillips Hall, which served more than 40,000 meals per week, Wyatt said.
“It was an important part of the university’s dining services, serving the needs of many of our off-campus students,” he said.
The new facility, which is expected to open in the fall of 2020 and costs $37 million to construct, will contain national brand eateries.
The big-ticket item, costing $127 million, is the construction of the Atlantic Union Bank Center and parking for the center.
The center, located on the corner of Carrier Drive and University Boulevard, will seat 8,500 guests for basketball games and almost 10,000 for commencement and other big events with the additional floor seating, Wyatt said.
It will also be available for the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County area to use for trade shows, concerts and other large gatherings.
The Atlantic Union Bank Center will feature a club area, courtside seating and a designated private courtside hospitality area, Wyatt said, with state-of-the-art lighting and audio and video technology including a center-hung scoreboard.
There will also be a student club area, expanded concessions and restrooms, a multipurpose group event space, a team store and a Raising Canes restaurant.
There will be a 1,500-car parking facility adjacent to the Atlantic Union Bank Center.
It will consist of two parking decks separated from the center by a courtyard.
“The additional parking will alleviate parking demands during the day for those students, faculty and staff looking for parking [at] the East Campus academic buildings,” he said.
The center is expected to be completed in the fall of 2020. The parking deck is ahead of schedule and is expected to be completed in the fall, Wyatt said.
The university owns 668.7 acres within the city.
Wyatt said even though JMU is growing by about 100 to 200 students a year, school officials “are cognizant of where we are.”
“We want to be good neighbors to Harrisonburg and Rockingham County,” he said. “They provide a number of opportunities for our students, such as civic engagement and community engagement, so we work closely with them.”
Wyatt said the university’s senior leadership meets with city and county officials on a monthly basis to find ways to continue improving and maintaining its relationship.