Turret renovations to expand services

Photo by Jess Dik

Photo by Jess Dik

Plans are in motion to make some big changes to the Turret nightclub at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The Turret facility, normally used for socials, banquets and “Turret Saturdays,” is going to be renovated to accommodate more people outside the university. This includes semi-formals, weddings and banquets, as well as an additional study space area.

According to Phil Champagne, executive director and chief operating officer of the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union, the idea for the project started over a year and a half ago.

“The idea is to kind of open up that floor and give it back to students during usable hours while still be able to turn it into a nightclub when we need to turn it into the nightclub,” he said.

Former executive director Roly Webster approached Champagne and director of hospitality services Jeyas Balaskanthan with the idea to expand the Turret.

According to the Students’ Union president and CEO, Sam Lambert, they are currently in the middle of the design process.

For this aspect, the Union reached out to Conestoga College where students had the opportunity to present their ideas for the space, Lambert said.

Right now, Champagne said they are picking and choosing what they like from the designs.

“Ultimately when we have a budget ready to go, we’ll reach out to the university and have them partner with us in terms of executing a project like that,” said Champagne.

The Students’ Union, which operates the Turret, currently has a verbal commitment from the university, but will need a written agreement before deciding on a budget.

“We want to learn from our past mistakes and actually make sure that all the financing is ready to go before we move forward and actually start a project,” Champagne explained.

The next step in the process is bringing in architects at the end of March or April to see if the ideas are feasible in the Turret space.

Lambert explained the architects they will approach will be the same ones the university uses for their projects.

“We want to go through the university so they can bring in their architects that they normally use because there’s been construction in this building before, [so] just making sure it’s all in line,” said Lambert.

According to Lambert, the biggest constraint with the capital expansion project is the money and how much the university is going to be able to provide.

“We have no money, the university doesn’t really have any money, so we’re thinking Student Life Levy because it will really enhance student life. It’s where we’ll be getting the majority of the funding, we just have to get the proposal together.”

Renovations to the Turret will start in the summer with small changes, such as bringing in new furniture.

Bigger changes will be in the process by spring 2016.

“We can get drawings and get ready to go that year, sometime next April or May, so we might be able to break ground so to speak,” said Champagne.

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