The University of Memphis administration turns its attention from the completed bridge and parking garage project to another project: the Center for Wellness and Fitness.

In order for the UofM to proceed to build a new Center for Wellness and Fitness facility, they will temporarily close off a large part of the South Lot parking area beginning Sept. 6 at 4:30 a.m.

According to Raajkumar Kurapati, the South Lot 15 East, which holds 697 parking spaces close to the recreational center, will no longer be open for students and visitors to park their vehicles.

People will have to park their vehicles in the new South Garage, Lot 1. The garage contains 1,132 parking spaces, which may help make up for the loss of parking spaces near the recreational center. All UofM students and employees with current parking passes will be permitted to use the garage.

To enter the parking garage, students and visitors will need to pull up to where the garage is located and stop. The garage gate will open after a 5 to 10 second wait. If assistance is needed, drivers will able to use the intercom located inside of the parking unit.

The Center for Wellness and Fitness is planned to be two stories tall and feature not only new fitness equipment, but also kitchens for cooking demonstrations, a café featuring healthy foods, an indoor track, four fitness studios, and two basketball courts. The outdoors activity area will also feature another basketball court, along with an exercise patio, three tennis courts, a swimming pool and an open field for students to participate in intramural sports.

The new additions to the school have mixed reactions among students. Some students, such as freshman Ben Owens, said the new recreational center will provide the school with a great promotional tool and draw people in.

“Despite the rec center being a somewhat long walk from the rest of campus, people will be intrigued to see what it looks like,” Owens said. “New buildings attract a lot of people because they want to test and try out the new equipment and amenities inside.” 

Other students, such as freshman Jayden Moody, are not feeling enthusiastic about the extra walking distance.

“The Student and Wellness Center is a very popular place on campus, but it is very long walk,” Moody said. “The bridge may be a shortcut to avoid the train, but that walk certainly doesn’t feel any less strenuous.”

Some feel the weather and distance may have a large factor in people going to the recreational center regardless of the distance, but freshman Kayla Dick said the new facility will be beneficial for other people.

“I may just stop going because it’s super hot and it’s going to get cold soon,” Dick said. “However, I think it’s good that the school is reconstructing its recreational center because it is outdated.”

The Center for Wellness and Fitness is currently planned to finish by spring of 2021, and parking spaces are expected to increase by 435 over Spring 2019 by the time of the fitness facility’s completion.

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