Neptune Hall receives renovations

Neptune Residence Hall West and North received updates over the summer. Neptune Residence Hall East will receive the same updates during the fall semester. 

DeKALB — Though renovations have been made at Neptune Residence Halls, more are yet to come.

Housing and Residential Services completed the renovations for Neptune Residence Hall throughout the summer. These are the first major renovations Neptune Residence Hall has ever seen.

“It’s never really been renovated before,” said Jennifer Manning, interim director of Housing and Residential Services. “Over the years, we have added sprinkler systems, replaced fire alarm systems and added new cable systems. Other than that, no major renovations have been done to any of the Neptune buildings.”

During a Feb. 16 2017 Finance, Facilities and Operations Committee meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a capital project request for a design plan to the residence hall. The Board approved $5.4 million in funding March 9 and anticipated renovations to be completed before the start of fall 2017 semester.

“A couple of years ago, a group was brought in to look at the Holmes Student Center and look into Neptune renovations, and they created a long-term plan,” Manning said. “We used some of that information that was gathered then to create a plan to do more minor renovations for this summer and fall.”

Construction started a couple days after graduation ceremonies ended May 13, said Dan Koenen, executive director of Campus Dining.

The long-term plan for the residence hall was to do a complete renovation of the buildings. Some renovations would include remodeling the bathrooms and adding air conditioning.

These updates were not in the original plan for renovations this year, said Manning.

Bringing air conditioning into the buildings would cost millions of dollars, Manning said. Housing and Residential Services officials are looking at other ways to air condition lounges and add public space air conditioning.

“Those kinds of things are pretty costly, and that is why we are trying to work floor by floor and do some of the important pieces that would stand out to people with things like furniture and things like that,” Manning said.

Neptune Residence Hall West floors one and two received new beds, desks, flooring and lighting in the bedrooms. New lighting was placed in the hallways, and dressing areas outside of showers in the bathrooms were added, according to a July 24 bulletin posted on Facebook by Housing and Residential Services.

“We focused our energy on Neptune West and Neptune North,” Manning said. “We had to create a plan based on the amount of time we had to work this summer and the availability of the craftspeople on campus as well as outside contractors.”

Neptune Residence Hall East will be closed for the 2017 to 2018 school year because of lack of occupancy in the residence hall.

“Last year, we had a floor in East closed and two floors in West closed,” Manning said. “We decided to consolidate and focus on having West and North full.”

With the wing being closed, work can be done during the school year so it can be renovated for the following year. The same renovations planned for Neptune Residence Halls West and North will be completed in Neptune Residence Hall East.

Other improvements include new flooring in lobbies, new booth seating in the cafeteria, an updated salad bar and allergy friendly food area in All You Care to Eat dining.

The Neptune dining hall also received new countertops, a gluten free station, new soda machines, food bars and hardwood flooring around the buffet lines.

The cost for the renovations completed so far has been $2.3 million. By the end of the renovations, it will end up costing $5 million, Manning said.

The money for the project came from 2008 bonds in an economic stimulus package. It was to be used for construction purposes, therefore no new debt is being added, Spokesperson Joe King said.

Although the renovation project was announced and completed by the start of the fall semester, sophomore drawing major Adrian Castaneda said he didn’t notice much change. This is Castaneda’s second year living in the residence hall.

"There isn't really any major renovations that I've noticed," Castaneda said. "The flooring is the only major difference I notice, and the new lighting is nice. In a way, I was content with the renovations."

Although some were completed sooner, all of the Neptune Residence Halls will be receiving the same renovations, which are to be completed by summer of 2018.

“We couldn’t get them all done this summer,” Manning said. “We have a plan to finish West and go over to North to start the room renovations West received.”

North did receive a few renovations, including new lighting in the student rooms, hallways and bathrooms and an upgrade in flooring in the lobby.

“We will move over to North so students living there don’t feel slighted by any means,” Manning said. “We just had to pick an area to start at.”

Housing and Residential Services officials also plan to continue renovations over winter break. Some of these renovations include repainting the Neptune dining hall and turning the Trident, which was formerly a grab-and-go eating area, into a multipurpose space.

There will also be more work done in the Neptune Residence Hall bathrooms.

“We wanted to give Neptune more of an appeal for students,” Manning said. “Neptune is a center part of campus, so it makes sense that people would want to live here, but we needed to update some of the outdated furnishings and the bathrooms to make it more appealing to students. These renovations will at least bring the buildings into this decade.”