Macon campus sees changes and growth

Mary Lathem, Arts and Lifestyle Editor

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Over the last several years, Mercer University’s Macon campus has transformed due to additions, such as the Five Star Stadium — home of Mercer’s football and lacrosse team — and the sprawling Cruz Plaza. Both of which were completed in 2013. Mercer continues to update its campus as it strives to create a more polished look and expand its gates.

The student body is changing as well — with incoming classes that boast academic profiles and sizes bigger and better than the ones before.

With this growth, significant parking and housing difficulties rose to the surface as facilities were stretched to support even more people. The hope, however, is that the improvements to Mercer’s campus this summer both enhance its appearance and accommodate its growing population.

The demolition of East Hall and Mercer’s physical plant began July 13 to prepare for the construction of a new freshman residence hall. The residence hall, which is projected to open in the fall of 2016, will be located behind Mary Erin Porter Hall and will provide community-style housing for 300 students.

In addition, East Hall’s demolition will create 200 parking spaces for the campus’s northeast quarter.

A new campus street connecting Ash Street and Edgewood Avenue is set to be added following the removal of the buildings to allow easy access to the new parking area.

Mercer’s Human Resources Office began relocation from East Hall on June 29 to the newly restored and renovated Newton Hall, which will also serve as an office space for the University’s custodial vendor, National Management Resources. Enhanced landscaping is the final touch on the beautified Newton Hall, which will be fully functional this fall.

Another solution to the housing crunch is on the way as the Lofts Phase V take shape across from Five Star Stadium. This new phase of the Lofts will feature housing for 313 students, a 400-car parking deck, and 14,000 square feet of University office space. Students and guests will be able to access this residential area from the main entrance of campus via a new pedestrian bridge, which will stretch across Mercer University Drive.

Additionally, a new Marriott hotel and several restaurants are under construction near those Lofts, further enhancing the development’s surroundings. Each of these developments are projected to reach completion during the fall of 2016.

The recently completed off-campus Lofts at College Hill, a housing option originally intended for graduate students, will temporarily accommodate sophomores, juniors and seniors during the construction of new housing.

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