Forging Collaborations, Generating Excitement
UT Arlington is creating a college town environment that blurs the boundaries between the campus and downtown Arlington. Our transformative College Park District is establishing a hub of activity that stimulates and complements private development.
Two years ago, an empty parking lot sat on the campus' eastern border along Center Street. Today, it's the site of a long-awaited new facility that will transform the University—and the City of Arlington. College Park Center opens for events this spring, including the first basketball games there, a men's and women's doubleheader against UT San Antonio.
Constructed to meet the LEED Gold standards of the United States Green Building Council, College Park Center is a $78 million, 218,000-square-foot facility that seats 7,000. It's the new home of Mavericks basketball and volleyball. Combined with the University's move to the Western Athletic Conference for the 2012-13 season, the arena gives coaches a distinct advantage in recruiting.
A true special events center, College Park Center also will give Arlington a signature venue for concerts, speakers, commencements, and other high-profile events. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will speak there March 23 as part of the prestigious Maverick Speakers Series, and UT Arlington will hold its first commencement there in May.
"A Tier One university needs a Tier One facility like this," President James D. Spaniolo says.
So does its community. The City of Arlington has long been without a venue of this kind, and local school districts have traveled to Grand Prairie, Fort Worth, and elsewhere to hold their commencements. No more: Arlington and Grapevine-Colleyville are among the area school districts that will hold graduation exercises there this spring.
On a campus as large and vibrant as UT Arlington's, leisure time is a precious commodity. Luckily, it's now easier to find.
Early last year the University opened The Green at College Park, a 4.62-acre green space north of Mitchell Street on Center Street. Part of the College Park District currently under development, The Green provides an inviting oasis for students, neighbors, and friends to gather and relax.
The unique site has a large lawn, curved stone wall that offers seating, pedestrian promenade, butterfly and hummingbird garden, native grasses, adaptive plants, and dry creek bed that helps manage rainwater and storm water runoff.
As a testament to its environmentally friendly features, The Green was among only 150 sites worldwide selected by the Sustainable Sites Initiative to test the first-ever rating system for sustainable land design, construction, and maintenance practices.
University and civic leaders are working together to make Arlington a college town as never before. Mayor Robert Cluck has become a fixture at campus events, and he and UT Arlington President James D. Spaniolo meet jointly with lawmakers in Austin and Washington, D.C.
With their leadership and collaboration setting the example, the geographic boundaries between the campus and the city are becoming indistinct, too.
The College Park mixed-use development that will be completed this summer on the eastern edge of campus is the first of its kind in downtown Arlington and includes an $18 million commitment from the city. Additionally, First Baptist Church-Arlington donated 1.5 acres of land for the project. The $80 million development is expected to spur additional growth in an already flourishing downtown corridor.
"This is a model for town-gown partnerships," Spaniolo says.