Two Years Later, PC East Starts to Fill Empty Lots

John Hanacek/Guardian

Two years after the grand opening of Price Center East, University Centers officials said they are in the final stages of filling the remaining store spaces with a bank, coffee shop, and hair salon, as they promised.

Price Center East opened in May 2008, funded by the Price Center Expansion Referendum — a $39 quarterly student fee enacted in Spring Quarter 2003. Only five vendors have been installed in the space since its opening, leaving three vacant slots.

“The students wanted the best of both worlds,” Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary Ratcliff said. “They wanted an expansion that was going to be large enough to serve the student body when we reached steady state enrollment, and they wanted the fee as low as possible. What that meant is there needed to be other sources of revenue to pay to operate the building, and retail was the answer.”

Price Center East already has a number of food retailers, such as Tapioca Express and Burger King. The remaining spaces were meant to provide alternative services to students, as outlined in the referendum.

University Centers Director Paul Terzino said he plans to install a hair salon on the second level of the building. A coffee shop, scheduled to open next winter, has been assigned to the space left of the Sunshine Market. A bank — whose name has yet to be released — will open to the right of the Sunshine Market by fall. According to Terzino, of the three, the bank is the furthest along in the planning and contracting stages.

The Department of Student Life issued a survey five years ago — before contracting out the spaces — to collect information on student preferences and determine which potential vendors would best accommodate their needs.

“In the spring of 2005, a survey was issued to the campus community,” Terzino said. “Over 4,000 responses came back. The responses from that survey really helped fuel the vendors that were considered in the expansion.”

Terzino said he worked with the University Centers Advisory Board, made up of students and administrators, to negotiate with potential businesses.

“The process does take time, because we have to essentially figure out what would be the best business to go in there,” UCAB Chair Jordan Taylor said. Once UCAB receives proposals from interested businesses, it reviews each one in detail to determine its potential.

“We go through a reviewing process of all the proposals with the commitee, and then we decide which ones we want to enter into more specific negotiations,” Taylor said.

Ratcliff said the process, though lengthy, was necessary to ensure student satisfaction.

“The board is very careful,” Ratcliff said.

Readers can contact Ayelet Bitton at [email protected].

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