FORT WORTH — Construction crews begin demolition in two weeks at Texas Wesleyan University to make way for a formal campus entry, one element of a multimillion-dollar project called Rosedale Renaissance, aimed at giving the area an urban village feel.By the time the work is done sometime in 2015, drivers will be able to enter the campus off East Rosedale Street and Vaughn Boulevard and park in a lot surrounding an 83-foot-tall clock tower and reflection pool. Across the street, in the 3200 block of East Rosedale, the old Polytechnic Heights City Hall and Fire Station will be renovated, and a $3 million conference center for The Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church will be added.The historic city hall and fire station will become a $400,000 business accelerator center, where business students, faculty and entrepreneurs can do market research and analysis, university officials said.“This is a true rebirth in this area,” University President Frederick Slabach said.The clock tower and renovation at the historic city buildings are part of a $6.7 million Texas Wesleyan facelift. Those renovations are coupled with the Rosedale Renaissance, a larger $32 million project that is a partnership between the city, Tarrant County, the North Central Texas Council of Governments and TxDOT, said project manager Dena Johnson.Brian Franks, executive director of facilities development and operations at the university said the massive improvements should be complete by the end of the spring 2015 semester. Already, crews are finishing work on two dorms dating to the late ’50s. Complete electrical, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrades were done to the Elizabeth Means Armstrong Hall and OC Hall, using a $1.5 million contribution from James C. Armstrong, the son of the couple for whom the dorms are named. The school’s 12 elevators — the oldest dating to the ’50s — have been outfitted with new door closures and safety improvementsTexas-adaptive plants such as yuccas, are growing with a little help from new drip irrigation systems installed to cut water waste.This past spring, landscapers planted 60 new trees across the campus including oak, crepe myrtles and magnolias. Thirty park benches were also installed.More than $125,000 was spent on irrigation and landscaping, Franks said.The university is in the final stages of reviewing contracts for a new combined heat and power plant. Building should start in the next two months and be completed in about two years, Franks said. The power plant will be housed in the university’s athletics complex. The plant is expected to save 60 percent on energy across the campus.Slabach said the plant will pay for itself in 8 to 10 years. A new welcome center also is planned.Rosedale RenaissanceThe first phase of the larger project was to revamp a two-mile stretch of East Rosedale Street from U.S. 287 to Miller Avenue, which cost $15.5 million and began in April 2013.East Rosedale Street is reduced to two lanes while crews relocate sewer and water supply lines to make way for expanded sidewalks, additional parking, benches, decorative lighting, public art and the $1.3 million entryway. “The campus, in its 124-year-history, never really had a formal entry. This is something very, very important,” Slabach saidThe four-lane road will be reconstructed and replaced by spring 2015, with roundabouts added at Miller and Ayers avenues, Johnson said.Texas Wesleyan, the city of Fort Worth and the NTCOG funded the portion of the project that includes landscaping, benches, sidewalk expansions and ornamental lights near the university. The idea is to create a urban village and “Main Street” vibe, city officials said.Stone monument signs that document the history of Polytechnic Heights will be built along East Rosedale near the campus. The second phase of the East Rosedale Street project, scheduled to start in early 2015, will run from Miller Avenue to 820 and is administered by TxDOT with a budget of $16.1 million. The goal is to return the roads to a divided four-lane expanded roadway with a median, and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. Johnson said she doesn’t have a definite time-frame for completion of that portion.“This is a tremendous opportunity for this neighborhood,” Slabach said.
Monica S. Nagy, 817-390-7792 Twitter:@MonicaNagyFWST