By George Tatoris
Walking around campus, you see two types of people: those with hard hats and those without.
Campus construction has become an ubiquitous part of life at the College. From the fenced-off and refurbished Brower Student Center to the hollowed-out halls of the new STEM Building to the bare-windowed storefronts of Campus Town, the College seems to be under perpetual construction.
Campus Town is beginning to shape up as more companies come in. Brickwall Tavern and Restaurant remains the most anticipated project, having originally been projected to open summer of 2016, according to an NJ.com article from January 2016.
However, students looking to find a place to drink within walking distance of campus may be dismayed to see the space leased out to Brickwall barren save for a coming soon poster on the window.
The owners of Brickwall just recently got their permits into the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and are getting approval for aspects of the project one by one, according to Greg Lentine, director of campus development and vice president of sales and marketing at PRC Group.
“There were a lot of things that had to happen with (Brickwall) in order for them to move forward, and one of the biggest things for them is the guarantee of the availability of a liquor license,” Lentine said. “That took some time to get organized. … That’s done.”
New Jersey has some of the strictest liquor license laws in the nation. Each municipality is only allowed to issue one license per every 3,000 residents, which leads to licenses being auctioned off at sky-high prices, sometimes more than $1 million.
Aspects of the original Brickwall plan, such as an open walkway going through the restaurant, were scrapped as time went on.
“We thought (Brickwall would) be open by spring, but in construction, unfortunately, things happen,” Lentine said.
Despite the delay, construction has begun on a number of other new Campus Town businesses. A hair stylist called Hair Worx, emPower Yoga and a nail salon have all begun construction, according to Lentine.
All current construction “should be open” by the fall semester, Lentine said. However, that is not certain.
“It really depends on the business,” Lentine said. “So it’s hard to tell (when they will be done).”
PostNet, a print shop, and the inFocus Urgent Care are awaiting approval for permits from the DCA, while a gourmet hot dog restaurant — which does not have a name as of yet — is also in talks to open a store.
California Tanning backed out of their deal with Campus Town. Lentine speculated that they could not get adequate equipment in the Campus Town lease space. Their sign still hangs in front of building 6, to be removed once another business takes its place.
Several other businesses are also eyeing Campus Town lots that — should negotiations fall through — will fill out the rest of the open storefronts.
“By this time next year, it should be fully occupied,” Lentine said.
Brower Student Center
On campus, Brower Student Center opened its new event space on Sunday, Feb. 5, for the College Union Board’s Super Bowl LI Celebration, but renovations aren’t done yet. Both the atrium and the north entrance remain closed to the public.
“The atrium is closed to the public for a few reasons — we recently removed the ceramic flooring, patched the existing concrete and are in the process of installing the new porcelain flooring,” said Matthew Bonomo, the project manager for the Brower renovation project. “The existing lighting fixtures are being removed and replaced with new lights.”
These tasks were meant to be completed over winter break, but complications with the new light’s wiring resulted in a delay.
The project is currently in Phase 3, which comprises completion of the second-floor meeting spaces and bathrooms, until the end of February 2017, according to the campus construction website.
Phase 3 also includes the completion of the north entrance and exit, game room and the Dean’s Suite, as well as new atrium stairs, Bonomo said. All work is scheduled to be completed by summer 2017.
Rising above the green fence surrounding it, the new STEM Building and Forum seeks to “connect TCNJ students with the synergy and the tools… of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in the 21st Century,” according to the College’s website.
The project reached it’s 75 percent mark and is aiming to be occupied by summer 2017, according to the campus construction website.
Phase 1 of the project consists of the new STEM building, an addition to the chemistry building and a Forum connecting the biology building with the new building. The cream-colored bricks of the Forum stand in contrast to the red brick buildings surrounding it.
The STEM Building will house the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and the Mechanical Engineering.
Another project was just added to that list. On Jan. 30, students received an email about new fencing and barriers on the upper two floors of Lots 7, 11 and 13 on campus, closing the parking spaces lining the walls of the garages on those floors.
“The main purpose is for safety and security,” said Joe Como, the project manager. “And the project entail garage barriers and fencing.”
The first garage slated for the project is the Metzger Garage, Lot 7. The construction will be completed in phases between Feb. 9 and Feb. 24. Campus Police will not ticket Campus Town residents — who usually park on the roof of Lot 7 — if they park on lower floors while construction is going on. Overflow parking for residents is also available in Lot 8 by the Administrative Services Building.
While the initial email said construction would begin on Thursday Feb. 2, problems with the supplier led to a week-long delay.