Coffman groups move to Stadium Village location

Kristin Gustafson

When the temperature inside the University’s non-air-conditioned Coffman Union rises above 90 degrees, students at the Minnesota Student Association “clear out,” said Matt Clark, vice president of the organization.
If University administrators finalize lease plans as expected, the MSA, along with about 20 other campus organizations, will move to an air-conditioned space in November.
The Board of Regents approved lease negotiations for 15,319 square feet in Stadium Village next week. A lease is expected to be signed at that time, University officials said.
The temporary union, located at 720 Washington Ave., will house student organizations, cultural centers, New Student Programs, the U Card office and the Campus Involvement Center.
Located between McDonald’s and Orange Julius, the space will offer an information kiosk at street-level and signs to direct students to the underground offices. In addition to air conditioning, the location will be made accessible with two power doors.
Campus groups will share services such as a kitchenette, Internet kiosks and an information booth to help groups schedule program space around campus.
Once the lease is finalized, the University will meet with those who will be relocated, firm up floor plans and address individual needs, said Bill Vadino, assistant director of the union’s facilities. It will take 90 days to renovate the space with an expectation of moving early November.
“This was the option that would mean we could accomplish what we wanted,” Vadino said. He said the student organizations and cultural centers wanted to remain together and stay on the East Bank. No other location, besides the Stadium Village space, allowed all that, Vadino said.
Currently the union’s new home is an “open space in the basement,” said the property manager ChackÇ Scallon. She said the atrium — which would house the kiosk — has a “gorgeous” marbled floor.
With almost 125 people working on the building’s third floor and those that will move with Coffman’s relocation, nearby businesses might experience an increase in sales.
“All these people are going to eat somewhere,” Scallon said.
Next door at McDonald’s, manager Linda Holmes said she would welcome the increased business and student input.
Lounges, food services and meeting and dining rooms will close their doors along with the rest of Coffman for a two- to three-year renovation beginning this fall. The building’s furniture and Internet kiosks will be distributed throughout the East Bank campus.
The Campus Club on Coffman’s fourth floor is in the process of negotiating space closer to faculty and administration.
“We are assuming we’ll have to downsize considerably,” said Dan Fossum, club manager.
Food services will relocate their catering services to other facilities, but the Lake Country Deli, Two City Cafe and Portage Market will close for the duration of the project.
“We don’t have any choice,” said Doug Hubbard, district manager for University Dining Services. They anticipate increased business at other nearby dining service locations, he said. He said hourly and student staff should keep their jobs.
But others in Coffman Union are wary of the new location.
“It’s too far,” said junior nursing student Helene Zelee as she sat in a hot room for the Africana Student Cultural Center with a large fan blowing warm air. “The cultural centers will lose a lot of members because it is too far to walk down there.” She said most of the center’s members live in nearby Comstock Hall.
“I guess it is a smart idea that they want to keep (the cultural centers) all together,” Zelee said.