Master plan updated for expected growth
Texas A&M University-San Antonio CFO Bill Spindle confirmed an updated campus master plan will go before the Texas A&M System Board of Regents for acceptance during their meeting April 26-28 in College Station.
The updated plan, presented on March 7 by CFO Bill Spindle and VisSpiro partner Chris Rice, focused on the science and technology building and the parking situation.
At the time of the presentation, Spindle said President Cynthia Matson was reviewing the master plan.
“This is really a compilation of two former master plans,” Spindle said. “This will be a 200-page document by the time it gets published in a month or so.”
Rice acknowledged that future plans for the university are subject to change. The most recent plan is an amalgam of the 2009 master plan, designed by Marmon Mok, and the 2012 plan developed by Alamo Architects.
Administration expects Fall 2017 enrollment will reach 6,500 students. Spindle said 1,000 parking spaces are planned for construction west of campus by September to accommodate growth.
“We’re growing at a huge clip and that’s one of the things that’s going to affect how we get things done,” Spindle said. “We’ve got lots of students, we’re trying to make sure we have places for them to study.”
Spindle acknowledged that if Esperanza Hall, the university’s first dormitory is filled to capacity in the fall, 382 students will become permanent fixtures on campus. Providing those students with a top-notch education, plus a lively campus life, is a key part of the plan.
“Academic excellence is a keystone of what we want to be known for,” Spindle said. “But we also want to have a campus community that people like being part of. We want you to come to campus and be a part of this.”
Spindle discussed the construction of the science and technology building, which resulted in the construction of a temporary parking lot.
“It’s sitting right on what was 250 parking spaces,” Spindle said. “One of the things we’re trying to avoid in the future is having to tear up something we just spent money on.”
Toyota building radius
When Toyota opened its plant just south of campus, the manufacturing plant signed an agreement with the City of San Antonio requiring that no residential dwellings be built within a three mile radius of their location.
The newest plan groups all future residential buildings in the northeast corner of campus, just outside the three mile radius.
“If we could put housing [elsewhere], trust me we would have shifted some of the academic buildings so it’s more spread out,” said Chris Rice. “With housing, it’s almost better to anchor it around the perimeter of campus instead of just all in one location, but we don’t have that option.”
Should Toyota or the City decide to change the agreement, the master plan could be adjusted to spread student living spaces throughout campus.
“Because of that location for housing it seemed to make sense to us to build a student union and a student recreation center,” Rice said. “Essentially from the center line of campus to the east would be student life.”
By the Fall semester of 2021, university officials expect the student population to near 10,000.
At that stage of development, construction would begin on two additional residence halls along with a student center. A central plant is planned to house electrical and mechanical controls throughout campus.
“So how do we get there? Well we have to take baby steps…over the next five and ten year windows,” Rice said. “Looking out even five to six years is pretty tough to estimate what exactly is going to happen.”
Once the student body exceeds 10,000, the plan calls for an additional 1,500 parking spaces and four new residence halls, bringing the total to eight. A new academic building is also planned directly south of the Central Academic Building where temporary offices currently sit.
“That takes us to a point where we’re at about 10,000-15,000 students and it won’t be that long from now,” Spindle said. “It’s a lot to think about and a lot of growth still to come.”