By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Students walking to their first classes of the spring semester Monday morning could readily see a new construction site on the Promenade.
But there’s more to come soon, both in food and exercise. The opening of the new Pita Jungle outlet on Lopes Way is imminent, the long anticipated Taco Bell in Thunder Alley is expected to be serving next week, and the massive Canyon Activity Center is on track for its unveiling within the month.
Anyone walking or driving near Camelback Road and 30th Avenue probably has noticed that the campus apartment dwellers there are about to have a lot of company: Three more 600-bed buildings and a pool are being built south of Diamondback Hall. That will bring the population in that part of campus to 4,200.
And now there’s this: Work has begun on a 1,960-space parking garage at Camelback and 31st Avenue. That also will be the home of the new, doubled-in-size Mail Center, with space for 150 people inside. The Canyon Health Center also will be expanded.
Colangelo College of Business students get to fully enjoy their new building this semester. All four floors now are open, ready to house nearly all of the college’s classes, and the official grand opening is scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Also, GCU Ballpark will unveil its new right-on-the-field seats when the Lopes open the season against Wichita State on Feb. 15.
The work on the west side of the Promenade is the beginnings of the five-story Student Advising Center, which will be the home of Enrollment, the Antelope Reception Center (ARC) and several other departments.
To make room for it, Building 18 – featured in this GCU Today story – was demolished on Dec. 19. Students also are advised that it will require a new walking route for much of 2019: The path to the east and south of GCU Stadium is closed for construction traffic.
The new Pita Jungle, located on the northwest end of Prescott Hall, will feature the Mediterranean dishes it has served for 24 years and will include grab-and-go options. This will be its 21st location in Arizona.
Taco Bell, likewise, needs no introduction. It figures to be a popular student hangout as soon as the doors open.
The Canyon Activity Center (CAC) figures to quickly become one of the most popular and most utilized buildings on campus.
It’s already the biggest, in one sense: At 136,000 square feet, it’s the largest single-story building at GCU. With its extremely high ceiling, it’s what is known as a tilt building – crews cast its concrete walls on the ground, then a huge crane stood them up.
It contains 10 basketball courts – plenty of space for intramural teams and pickup games – with a scoreboard for each one and movable bleachers in the event of big events, such as the NCAA Youth Development camp in July – GCU is one of only four sites for the inaugural national event. The championship court on the west end of the facility has a larger scoreboard.
It also features volleyball nets that come out of the ceiling, same as the basketball hoops, on three courts – two to a court. Separate scoreboards are available for volleyball at each of those locations.
There even are lines on the courts for pickleball and badminton, and nylon nets around each court will prevent balls from going too far astray.
But that’s only the start of what will be available.
Before they even get inside, visitors will notice the roller hockey rink, made possible by the Arizona Coyotes. That will be yet another sports outlet for students on a campus that features so many others.
Just inside the main entrance will be Lopes Mart, fully stocked just like the other full-convenience stores on campus. Tables (and ping-pong tables) will be set up there, right across from the information desk and locker rooms.
One more very important amenity: There will be a climbing wall right around the corner.
The structure also touts a southeast wing that will contain the band room, a weight room and offices for the staffs that manage club sports and intramurals.