The University of Texas at Arlington has been working hard to create more of a college town-type atmosphere for the university and for downtown Arlington.
UTA just hosted the ceremonial groundbreaking of the new College Park District, an area spanning more than 20 acres on campus, from UTA Boulevard to Mitchell Street.
It will include a park, special events center, 500-bed residence hall, student apartments and residential and retail development.
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"The city benefits from it, the community residents benefit from it, (and) the university benefits," said James Spaniolo, UTA president.
The goal is to give downtown Arlington more of a college town feel, and it will add to the city's growing list of attractions.
Land for a 1,800-space parking garage was provided by First Baptist Church Arlington. In exchange, the church can use the garage during its services and other events. The Rev. Dennis Wiles, the church's senior pastor, described it as a “win-win.”
“One of our biggest needs -- parking,” he said. “UT approached us and said, 'We’d like to build a parking garage, but we need your property to do that.'”
And the College Park District might help erase the perception of UTA as only a commuter school.
“We love our commuting students, but there is life here 24-7 at UT Arlington,” Spaniolo said.