Consumer Services has begun the search for an architect, a restaurant designer and a retail designer who can help transform Marquis Hall into the centre for food and retail services on campus.
Using a two-part approach, the plan is to rejuvenate the 43-year-old building by combining services from elsewhere on campus, reorganizing the space and capitalizing on its central location. And Greg Fowler, director of Consumer Services, believes the time to begin is now.
For some time, Marquis Hall, which houses residential and retail dining, the University’s main production kitchen and the bookstore, has been in need of “more than a facelift,” said Fowler. Plans for its renewal were kick started by the U of S Students’ Union (USSU) renovation of Place Riel.
Consumer Services operates the Centre Shop retail outlet and two food outlets – A & W and Bené Pizza – in lower Place Riel, explained Fowler. With the renovation, Consumer Services would have to re-outfit its space in Place Riel in addition to paying rent. “It would cost us about $400,000 to put the same services we’re already providing back in there, and that’s $400,000 we don’t have.”
Instead, a new plan was drawn up. In phase one of the project, Fowler said the branded food outlets will be added to other eateries in the Arts buffeteria to create a food court, and the Centre Shop operation will be combined with the bookstore in Marquis Hall. “It makes a lot of sense to have our retail outlets in a central location,” he said. “It just really worked.”
Fowler added that a coffee shop may be incorporated into the Marquis Hall retail operation to create a casual feel to the shopping environment.
The second phase of the plan focuses on the food operation upstairs, where very little has changed since the building opened in 1965. “We have to consider residential and retail dining and creating a space for the campus community. It has a great view of the Bowl so it would be nice to go up there and have a cup of coffee but right now, it’s not open except at meal times. The space is central to the University but it isn’t very well used.”
Reconfiguring the space so it can accommodate up to 1,000 people, the addition of an elevator and some modifications to the kitchen operation are included in the project. Food offerings in upper Marquis Hall would be non-branded, he said, and would include “solid healthy choices.”
Fowler said Consumer Services will finance the entire project, largely from the $300,000 in annual rent it will save by moving its operations out of Place Riel. The initial cost estimates are about $1 million for the bookstore, retail and coffee shop operation on the main floor and about $2 million for upper Marquis Hall renovations.
He added that there are student representatives on the Marquis Hall planning committee to ensure their voice is heard.