Lower Sproul Redevelopment program near completion, food court to be added

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Kayla Baskevitch/Staff

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With the majority of construction complete, the ASUC Student Union and UC Berkeley’s Facilities Services are finishing renovations on the campus’s new Lower Sproul Plaza.

The plaza, which is scheduled to open in the fall, is part of the Lower Sproul Redevelopment program, which included the renovation of Anthony Hall and the relocation of the Career Center. Though most of the project has already been completed, construction crews spent winter break painting and flooring the Cesar Chavez Student Center and finishing the plaza surface, which is now open.

The student union, the administrative branch of the ASUC in charge of the project, is working with Chartwells — a contract food service that provides food and beverages to schools — to determine the four different restaurants for the food court, according to DeeJay Pepito, commercial space coordinator for the student union.

Pepito said Chartwells will also supply meals for two coffee shops and a pub. The union is also pursuing a liquor license for the pub, which ASUC President Pavan Upadhyayula said is likely going to happen.

The Cal Student Store, the official ASUC-backed campus store, is currently located off campus due to construction but will move back to Lower Sproul in the fall.

According to Pepito, the ASUC Student Union has signed a letter of intent to enter into a long-term contract with a vendor for the store, which will provide merchandise. BBA Solutions, the current vendor for the store, will continue to supply products.

Construction crews are still refurbishing the exteriors of Eshleman Hall and the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, installing utilities inside the buildings and sheetrocking the basement of Eshleman Hall.

A stairway and access ramp between Upper and Lower Sproul plazas is expected to be completed and opened in mid-February, according to Christine Shaff, communications director for UC Berkeley’s real estate division.

In addition to food establishments, the renovated spaces will include a multicultural community center, free practice and performance rooms and meeting locations and workspaces for the student government. Planters and trees are planned for the outside plaza to “make the space more inviting,” according to the project’s website.

The project has a budget of $223 million, with up to $99 million of campus funding promised by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and $124 million from student fees outlined in the BEARS Initiative, a student referendum passed in the spring of 2010.

The ASUC Student Union Board — composed of ASUC leadership, UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff — must approve each decision about the redevelopment, including the types of restaurants to be included in the plaza.

“Because ASUC has the majority on the board, we have decision-making power,” Upadhyayula said. “We work together with the student union to ensure (the Lower Sproul area) will be open in a few months.”

Construction for the project began in early 2012 and is expected to finish in fall of this year.

Sonja Hutson covers student government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @SonjaHutson.