The area east of the University Recreation Center is set for a remodel as the university aims to improve office efficiency and pedestrian safety.
The university intends to relocate human resources and construct an administration building in its place on the south side of campus, east of the admission office. This will bring together dozens of administrative departments that are currently scattered across campus into one three-story building. The departments include the chancellor’s office, provost’s office, university advancement, financial services, financial aid, marketing, registrar, career center, Title IX office, student affairs and the student center.
TCU Physical Plant’s Project Manager Brooke Ruesch says that it will be a huge advantage to have the administration in one building because they all work together in some way. She added that the ultimate goal is to empty much of Sadler Hall and the other spaces administration is currently occupying in the academic part of campus.
The university also wants to privatize Bellaire Drive North from Rogers Avenue to Stadium Drive so that the road becomes a better walk space.
“The intent of closing Bellaire and making a real nice pedestrian access is just to kind of make it safer for students right now,” Ruesch said. “Bellaire is not heavily used, but it isn’t pedestrian friendly.”
Philosophy major Philip Kafuluma lives in the nearby Tom Brown/Pete Wright apartments and has to cross Bellaire to go to Kroger for groceries.
“I usually have to go around rush hour and it is a bit of a pain to cross the street,” Kafuluma said. He said he often sees drivers on their cell phones not paying attention or speeding down the road.
Ruesch said that closure of Bellaire Drive North would reduce the traffic quite a bit on the south side of campus, allowing students to cross more safely. That said, the traffic has to go somewhere. Nearby residents are concerned the street closure could bring more congestion to their front door.
“We have very low traffic counts coming through Wabash and we want to keep it that way,” Marth Jones, a nearby resident, said. “The neighborhood put in a request with Fort Worth Planning and with TCU that they put some type of diverter.”
Ruesch says that project managers have worked closely with all stakeholders to make sure everyone is excited about the plans. The city and the university are also studying inbound, outbound and cut-through traffic patterns to prepare for the possible closure of North Bellaire Drive. They are also looking into adding a new traffic light and a diverter at the intersection of Berry Street and Wabash Avenue to prevent cut-through traffic.
If the city approves the project this spring, phase one will begin in the summer. This phase will include utility work on Berry Street and the south side of Wabash Avenue. Construction of the new administration building could begin as early as February 2019.