Construction Signals Coming Changes at SMU - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
George W. Bush Presidential Center

George W. Bush Presidential Center

Coverage of the development and dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center on the SMU campus.

Construction Signals Coming Changes at SMU

In addition to Bush center, other projects are under way to improve campus life



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    Southern Methodist University is in the midst of some big changes.

    The area near Southern Methodist University in Dallas is buzzing with construction work.

    Orange construction barrels, cement trucks, tall construction cranes and bulldozers have become part of the landscape near Central Expressway and Mockingbird Lane.

    "There's a lot of activity," said Brad Cheves, SMU vice president for External Affairs. "There's a lot of construction. That means progress, growth, vitality."

    Many changes replace or expand old buildings or athletic facilities, some to make way for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

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    The center along the expressway is the largest construction project on campus. It will include a library and institute to be operated separately from the university but located on SMU grounds.

    The Mrs. Baird's bread plant has been demolished across Mockingbird Lane from the main campus to make way for indoor and outdoor tennis courts and a campus information technology building.

    In 2014, a parking lot near the SMU football stadium, along with old condos next door that are slated to be demolished, will be the construction site for a new residential village.

    For the first time, it will give SMU enough housing to require sophomores to live on campus, as well as freshmen.

    "Knowing that our peer and aspirant institutions have that capacity across the country, it's important for SMU to be able to offer that as we enter our second century," Cheves said.

    SMU leaders say all of the work adds up to improvement for the school and for Dallas.

    A March 31 conference about women's rights in Afghanistan with former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush also included the Afghan president via satellite.

    "But for the Bush Library Center, these types of interactions and discussions would not be on this campus, nor would they be in Dallas necessarily," Cheves said.

    Some campus neighbors are excited about the new developments while others are disappointed about the changes.

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    Marcie Sibley misses the smell of fresh bread from the Mrs. Baird's bakery and dislikes growing traffic in the neighborhood.

    "On Mockingbird, used to be you could go up and down and hardly see a car," she said. "Now you can barely go up and down at all."

    Construction of the presidential center will not be completed until 2013. It is expected to attract 250,000 visitors a year.

    "I think it will draw a lot of people -- maybe too many people -- so it's not the way we'd like to see the neighborhood work out," said Warren Sibley, Marcie's husband.

    Cheves said SMU is working to cause the least possible difficulty for neighbors because of library traffic in the future and construction trucks now.

    "We're accustom to handling progress," he said.