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Davis, California

Thursday, February 29, 2024

Memorial Union Bookstore set to expand and renovate existing space

Construction will continue near the Memorial Union as the campus gears up for an upcoming expansion of the MU Bookstore, with building possibly to begin next fall quarter.

According to a January 2010 Project Planning Guide, the expansion will increase the size of the MU Bookstore on both floors by 17,705 assignable square feet to a total of 59,788 ASF – or, by approximately 42 percent.

The retail area of the first floor will grow by approximately 53 percent and will be renovated to accommodate the additional space. It will include new fitting rooms for trying on clothing and additional cash registers. The expansion will also add a small café facing the MU bus terminal, and will be managed by the ASUCD Coffee House.

The Tech Hub will migrate to the expanded second floor, which will also include a study lounge, computer lounge, administrative space and renovated offices. It will increase the existing space from 1,726 ASF to 10,185 ASF. The bookstore basement and Games Area will also be renovated.

The project will be financed through $12 million in existing Campus Unions reserves and $14 million in debt service. The debt service will be paid for with auxiliary revenue and the $28.50 MU Fee that enrolled students pay each quarter, according to Jan Barnett, associate director of MU Auxiliary Services. No additional fees will be used to pay for the expansion.

Brett Burns, director of MU Auxiliary Services, said the MU Bookstore expansion planning, which began in 2006, received the input of students, faculty and staff, as well as from their bookstore and campus advisory boards.

Planners created focus groups to inquire in to student demands for future student union space.

“We offered pizza,” Burns said. “That was the lure so that people would come.”

A more ambitious $30 million plan to also excavate the games and textbook area and to install a theatre in the east wing of the MU was shelved due to financial constrains, Burns said.

The project is also meant for Campus Unions services to keep pace with UC Davis’ increasing student population.

“This expansion project has been in the planning stages for several years,” said Jan Barnett, associate director of Memorial Union Auxiliary Services, in an e-mail interview. “And was undertaken because we are trying to meet the needs associated with a student body that has grown significantly.”

“We’re well undersized as far as bookstores go for an institution this large,” said Burns, who hopes the expansion will meet the university’s needs for at least 20 years. “Getting the tools of education out to our entire community in the bookstore of this size is well below the standard for large college bookstores.”

Among the hurdles the planners are facing is the search for an interim bookstore during the building process. Construction is projected to last between 18 to 24 months.

Burns is pushing for a phased construction so that portions of the bookstore area will be accessible to students. But that might also lengthen the construction time and increase the cost of the project, which is limited to its $26 million budget.

“We’ve been vetting numerous different options,” Burns said. “We seem to be landing on a place where we have the opportunity to occupy portions of the current bookstore in conjunction with utilizing spaces on the second floor of the MU.”

Students who frequently use the bookstore for their class materials might feel inconvenienced by construction.

“I guess it will affect me because I usually buy my textbooks here,” said Inna Tyulyu, a junior communication major who was browsing for her textbooks. “If it was an extension of this, I’d go there. I’m not a big fan of web searching. I have to see it.”

But for students who shop elsewhere, the change will not be drastic.

“I really don’t come here that often,” said Amanda Descagnia, a junior exercise biology major who says she primarily purchases scantrons from the bookstore. “I do like comparing the prices of books at the beginning of each quarter. Sometimes I buy Spanish books but other times I try not to buy here because they’re really expensive.”

For current information on the expansion project, visit: campusunions.ucdavis.edu/Campus_Unions/Renovations.html.

LESLIE TSAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.


  1. You mean we’re spending twenty-six million dollars to renovate the book store and the games area while at the same time we lay off lecturers and staff, reduce the quantity and quality of available classes, and charge the students more money for tuition?


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