Watterson Dining Commons is expected to undergo an $11 million expansion.
ISU will construct a two-story addition to Watterson on the east side of the facility, along Fell Avenue. The second floor of this addition will house the bakery as well as a private dining room and test kitchen.
The project has been in the making since 2011. The Illinois State University Board of Trustees approved the expansion of facilities in 2015.
The reason for this upcoming expansion project is “to consolidate all baking functions and certain food preparation [in order] to increase operational synergy and efficiencies” said Erin Watts, assistant director of marketing, training and hospitality in Event Management, Dining and Hospitality, said.
Food production for students originated in the John Green Food Service Building on Gregory Street in 1968, however by the early 2000s, the baking equipment there was beginning to fail and everything had to be relocated to the Feeney Dining Center in the South Campus Residence Hall Complex. By 2012, most of the food production equipment had been moved to the Watterson Dining Commons and the expansion project is expected to complete this transition.
Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2018 after commencement. This project should take roughly one year to complete and will include “improvements to the loading dock, staging areas, and relocation of cold and dry ingredient storage [as well as] a ‘cold prep’ room [to be] created on the lower level of the existing building,” Watts said.
To complete this project Event Management, Dining and Hospitality has been working closely with Facilities Planning and Construction, Cordogan Clark & Associates, Inc, and Ricca Design. The project will be paid for with reserve funds, meaning no tax money will be used and there will be no increase in student fees.
The dining center serves students currently housed in both Watterson Towers and Hewett-Manchester halls. However, many students are in the dark on the upcoming renovations.
“[I] had no idea about the new expansion project,” sophomore psychology major Vivian Spradlin said.
Freshman biology major Miranda Hamann said she “didn’t even know [the project] was happening.”
Students can expect to see the new addition to the Watterson Dining Commons up and running in a few short years. The dining area and access to food services should be minimally impacted by the construction.
“Event Management, Dining and Hospitality is strongly committed to providing high quality dining options, so [they’re] excited about the project and looking forward to the positive changes the space will create,” Watts said.