What’s to Come
The look of UCA’s campus is about to change dramatically as the university works to create a mixed-use facility on the east side of Donaghey Avenue. The project, known as Donaghey Hall, will be a 67,500-square-foot, four-story building located on the corner of Bruce Street and Donaghey Avenue. The first floor will consist of approximately 15,000 square feet of commercial space available for lease for retail and restaurant tenants. The upper floors are dedicated as a residence hall and will contain 165 beds for sophomore- and junior-level students. The following is a conversation with TJ Johnston, director of special university projects/community affairs, about Donaghey Hall and what’s to come:
Why did UCA want to build a mixed-use facility?
Our aim is to create a sense of place for both the UCA community and the citizens of Conway. This type of development is one of the ingredients needed in order to recruit and retain the best students, faculty and staff. To put it simply, we’re in the business of place making. Donaghey Hall is our first step.
What kind of businesses will be on the first floor?
We are currently working with several potential tenants for the ground floor. For now, it’s safe to say that the first floor will have a strong retail and restaurant presence. President Courtway is also considering dedicating a portion of the ground floor to what’s commonly referred to as a “makerspace” (a place where students gather to share resources and knowledge, work on projects, network, and connect with each other). In my opinion, this will be the anchor, or most dynamic use, housed in Donaghey Hall.
What is the estimated cost and how will it be funded?
The project cost is just under $16.3 million and will be funded through bond proceeds. The bonds will be repaid through student housing fees and tenant-lease revenues.
What is your long-term vision for Donaghey Avenue?
Ten to 15 years from now, we will look back and recognize Donaghey Hall as the starting point for the creation of the Donaghey District. Donaghey District will be a corridor of development along Donaghey Avenue. It will contain a variety of uses and functions for the campus and community. Imagine a place where you can go grab a bite to eat, then walk next door and see a play at the performing arts center. After that you may shop a little or better yet, “window shop” at what’s being created in the makerspace or art studio. Maybe you just sit for a while and enjoy the live music. Hopefully, the Donaghey District will be a place where everyone can feel welcome and comfortable and part of something unique. It will be a place where the energy alone makes you come back again and again for a variety of reasons.
TJ Johnston ‘03 is the director of special university projects/ community affairs. Johnston is responsible for overseeing all phases of the planning and development of the Donaghey District project, and works with officials of the city of Conway on the project.