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Monday, October 25, 2021

Silo undergoing further renovations

The Silo Union is undergoing a series of renovations to refresh the building and address issues based on student concerns.

Through direction given by a student advisory board to enhance student destinations, the Silo renovations were designed to improve issues of space by expanding student seating, remodeling restrooms, enhancing the food cart program, and providing general maintenance to the architecture of the building.

“We have a dated building where systems are failing. We want students to feel like they can hang out here safely and comfortably,” said Brett Burns, executive director of the Memorial Union Auxiliary Services, which runs the Silo. “We like to call our student unions the ‘living rooms of the university.’ We want to build community and socialization on campus.”

The current renovations were paid for by a capital investment by Sodexo.

The Memorial Union capital reserve program, revenues from food services, student fees and the bookstore program will also help pay for the renovation project.

The cost estimates are around $750,000 to $1 million, for the current renovation phase, Burns said. Student fees were not increased for the renovations.

“We had to do the renovations in a phasing project because we cannot tackle a seven to 10 million dollar project now. We are trying to make as many upgrades as possible on a reasonable budget,” Burns said.

The first phase of the renovations began with the construction of the Starbucks that replaced Brenan’s coffee in July 2011. The Starbucks opened last Thursday.

The entire Silo project is expected to finish within the next two to three years, depending on revenues, Burns said.

Beginning in the 2011-12 academic year, students will see an expansion of the food cart program. Currently, the Star Ginger food truck and the Shah’s Halal Middle Eastern food cart are doing business at the site between the Silo and the Bike Barn.

Construction began to build a Silo canopy, which will be a covered, open-air structure for the food carts. It is projected to open within the school year.

The East Quad Farmers Market, which will take the name UC Davis Farmers’ Market, will also be held at the Silo Union starting Spring quarter. The farmers market will hopefully run one to two days a week, Burns said

There are also plans to enhance programming at the Gunrock Pub, which is located behind the Silo, since it struggles to garner business in the evening. The pub plans to add wine tasting and trivia night, Burns said.

The next large phase is courtyard landscaping and enhancement of the environment outdoors, such as removal of the fence.

“We wanted to stay with the integrity of the original building. The architecture is iconic to UC Davis,” Burns said.

The Silo Union is one of the original buildings of UC Davis, Burns said.

“Some staff depend on eating on campus every day, and eating the same thing every day gets boring,” said Gina Rios, retail dining general manager of University Dining Services. “We want to give people a wide range of food options, and people are interested in a diversity of food. The Silo makes sure to have that kind of diversity.”

Currently, there are interests to add new food options and explore the idea of adding vegetarian and vegan options, Rios said.

The newly installed Starbucks has met mixed reviews, Rios said. Some students have questioned why Starbucks was chosen to replace Brenan’s, and customers faced long lines the first day it was opened.

Concerning future plans, it is uncertain what it will look like. There are discussions to update or move the crepe booth and plans for the south silo, Rios said.

An open house is planned for Oct. 17 to showcase the renovations of the Silo Union.

“We want to highlight programs and services in the Silo and make sure students, faculty, and staff understand what is here for them,” Burns said.

ALICIA KINDRED can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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