University of Colorado planners intend to propose a $3 million remodel for the Glenn Miller Ballroom, a campus epicenter that has played host to entertainers like B.B. King and Chubby Checker and is a popular space reserved for everything from careers fairs to a campus drag show.
The project plans are in the very early stages, with the "notice of intent" being presented Thursday to the Boulder Campus Planning Commission.
Planner Wayne Northcutt told the group that the renovation is expected to cost up to $3 million and it would include a larger stage, updated lighting, a renovated kitchen area where catering crews prep banquets and the possibility of a nearby gender-neutral bathroom.
When campus planners draw up designs for renovations in student-fee funded buildings -- such as the University Memorial Center -- they must at least consider a gender-neutral bathroom as required by the CU Student Government.
The ballroom renovation was trimmed from the budget from the last University Memorial Center remodel, which was a $2 million project completed in fall 2010.
Student fees will not increase to pay for the planned Glenn Miller Ballroom renovation, Northcutt said. Some money is earmarked from the CU Student Government reserve funds and revenue generated from the UMC may also help pay for the project. The Glenn Miller Ballroom generates $576,000 annually in revenue, mostly from room rentals.
Campus planners expect to have a more detailed plan completed by the winter, and the proposal could go before the Board of Regents for approval in June.
Now, some groups including the CU Foundation and Conference Services don't use the Glenn Miller Ballroom because of the aesthetics, but would be interested in hosting events there if it's remodeled, Northcutt said during the meeting.
Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division at CU, said at the meeting that the Glenn Miller Ballroom is a valuable space in Boulder -- especially given the absence of a convention center. The surrounding "Aspen Rooms" near the ballroom often serve as meeting space on campus.
"I actually would vote for spending more money and doing it right," Wobbekind said. "The food is really not very good. I'm just being polite. And that's always a criticism when the chamber (of commerce) is in here or when somebody else is in here. I think there's a way to really fix the kitchen and really do a nice job there."
The project would likely take six to nine months to complete, according to CU officials, with construction beginning in the summer of 2014.
Already, the student center staff has been alerting big clients of the possibility of the closure, said Jimmie Baker, an associate director at the UMC. If the ballroom is shut down during the summer months, university officials will need to relocate new student summer orientation programs.
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