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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Write for Us
Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
@TheChrony
Print Issues

Universe Project would benefit from student input

By Andrew Cengiz

We’re finally getting some conveniently placed stores on the U campus.
For many U students, the Universe Project that could replace the parking lot west of Rice-Eccles Stadium is a welcome change.

“(It’s) exciting,” said Scott Lundberg, a U graduate student. “It shows a strong focus on long-term sustainability, not to mention a more aesthetic use of the space.”

The success of this site depends on the location and the stores that settle there. The Universe Project is located next to the TRAX line, and the development will be easier to access than any other market for on-campus students.

Students won’t know what businesses will occupy the space until the U administration finds a “qualified development team to plan, design, construct and own/manage some components of the development,” according to the U’s Web site. While they’re doing that, here are a few suggestions on what needs to happen:

First, an extremely important addition to this project would be a 24-hour food site. For students who stay up all night, there’s a need for a constant source of brain food. Although The Pie is delicious and open late, its prices aren’t exactly ideal for poor college students.

Second, the David Eccles School of Business creates several student-run businesses a year, giving its students real-world experience and greatly adding to Utah’s economy. The planning commission needs to consider reserving space in the Universe Project for a U business developed and run by students.

“I think that it is worthwhile to evaluate using space in the new development for a student-operated business venture,” Lundberg said.
Although there would be challenges, such as the length of time a student-run business would operate before the space would be open for a new project, Lundberg said he feels it is worth pursuing.

“In my opinion, such a space should become part of existing entrepreneurial programs,” he said.

An annual change in student-run businesses would help students get started on the right track “while providing enough turnover to make the space as accessible as possible,” Lundberg said.

A student-run business would give the plaza the heart that large corporate businesses wouldn’t be able to provide.
Also, some interesting ideas concerning the University Campus Store were suggested in a market analysis completed in October 2007 by Wikstrom Economic and Planning Consultants Inc.

The Wikstrom report suggests relocation of the bookstore to the Universe Project site. According to the report, it would be a good move because of the “difficult” parking situation of the current bookstore. The report goes on to suggest a “privatized (bookstore) could be an anchor for a retail development on the site.”

The National Association of College Stores said 34 percent of campus bookstores outsource to private firms. The two biggest names that are taking over bookstores are Follett Higher Education Group and Barnes & Noble College Booksellers. The relocation would make getting to the bookstore a lot easier. The U could also turn the bookstore location into much needed extra parking.

Finally, on a personal note, the Universe Project site needs to have a Panda Express. Although some say it’s not “real” Chinese food, it’s still extremely delicious and satisfying. There are only two Panda Express restaurants close to campus. One is inconveniently located in The Gateway, and the other is on 2100 S. and 1100 East. These locations don’t come close to meeting the needs of students who are addicted to
Panda’s Orange Chicken.

Whatever the final decision, the planning committee should poll students to find out what they want. This is a great opportunity to increase student activity on the U’s campus. So it would be wise to keep students involved.

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