After years of planning and preparation, the construction of Comet Town, the development project on the north side of campus that will feature new dining and housing, is set to commence.
Groundbreaking will take place on April 16 at 3 p.m. in the corner of Rutford Avenue and Synergy Park Boulevard.
Construction is slated for completion by the summer of 2016 and later that fall students will have the opportunity to move into the apartments and use the new venues.
Calvin Jamison, vice president of administration, said Comet Town is an attempt to produce a live, play and study environment for a university previously known for being a commuter school.
“It will set the tone, create the energy and provide our own flavor of a destination where our faculty and students can gather and obtain different amenities, as well as have a place where students can just hangout,” Jamison said.
Comet Town, which will include 13.2 acres of land, will be located on the north side of Synergy Park Boulevard, between Rutford Avenue and Floyd Road. It is part of a transit-oriented development that is located around what will ultimately be a DART Cotton Belt Station.
Jamison said the long-term vision of the station is to obtain a certain amount of accessibility that allows a person flying to DFW to find rail service, ride to UTD, stop, check into an apartment in Comet Town and head over to class.
Comet Town will include three phases. The first pushes for apartments with pools, outdoor dining, a grill area and a game area. The second phase includes 16 townhouses that consist of two bedrooms each, and the third phase contains approximately 20,000 square feet of restaurants and entertainment.
Jamison said he hopes Comet Town will bring in a pub with multiple TVs in every direction, one TV displaying cricket, the other badminton, the other football and so on. He said although it is too early to decide the specific eating choices that Comet Town will showcase, there will be café seating around the restaurants. The ultimate goal is to create four phases — breakfast, lunch, dinner and nightlife, Jamison said.
“Over the years, UT Dallas has created its own unique culture,” Jamison said. “We want the environment to reflect that but also give students the opportunity to grow and develop in an environment that is inclusive, supportive and that creates a continuous part of the community experience.”
The challenge with Comet Town is that the traditional model that one uses to attract potential tenants cannot be used for the project, Jamison said.
“What we have is a mini city,” Jamison said. “I don’t see it as a difficulty. I see it as an opportunity.”
In the last seven years, the campus size has increased enough to where it is like Texas Christian University or Southern Methodist University has been added to UTD, and as the campus grows, the goal is to leave a legacy, he said.
“A decade from now, when people look back at UT Dallas, they will talk about what were some of the defining moments of the history of the school, and this last decade has been a time when we came together and said, ‘Let’s absolutely transform this campus,’” Jamison said.