The first phase of construction for the North Campus Residential Expansion project was slated to be complete by fall 2021.

Boris Tsang / Sun Photography Editor

The first phase of construction for the North Campus Residential Expansion project was slated to be complete by fall 2021.

April 5, 2020

N.Y. Construction Ban Puts North Campus Expansion Timeline Up in the Air

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The University has halted construction on the North Campus Residential Expansion project until further notice, following new state regulations in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

On March 27, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) temporarily suspended all non-essential construction statewide through at least April 19 — which includes a halt to residential and commercial building.

The NCRE project will eventually provide approximately 1,200 new beds for first-year students and 800 for second-year students.

After completion, the expansion in residential facilities will allow Cornell to house “100 percent of its first-year students in developmentally appropriate campus housing and 100 percent of its sophomores in campus residence halls, co-ops and Greek Housing,” according to the site plan.

The project also includes the construction of a new North Campus fitness center, parking lot, cafe and a 1,200 seat dining hall, which will replace an aging Robert Purcell Market Eatery.

The University separated the project into two phases, the first of which it initially planned to complete by fall 2021. After constructing the first-year student site, construction would continue to the sophomore housing phase, originally planned to be ready for students by fall 2022.

However, the pandemic has complicated that timeline, leaving students worried about the future availability of guaranteed, on-campus housing.

Carolyn Chun ’22, who would be a senior by the time of NCRE’s previously-expected completion date, expressed concern for next year’s incoming Class of 2025, which may no longer be able to reap the benefits of complete housing that the project had initially promised.

“I think that Cornell housing is responsible for and should prioritize accommodating those they guaranteed housing to, while still ensuring workers’ health and safety,” Chun said.

Chris Davenport, project manager for Facilities and Campus Services, said he remains unsure how the temporary halt to construction will impact anticipated completion dates.

“It’s too early to say how, or how much, our timeline is going to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Davenport wrote in an email to The Sun. “At this time, we don’t know how long it’s going to last. When we have a better idea of when work will resume, we will reevaluate our timeline.”

According to Davenport, NCRE construction workers continued building and planning up until the mandatory suspension. However, the University implemented several precautions to ensure workers’ health and safety.

Hand-washing stations were placed throughout the various construction sites, and more frequent cleaning was enforced. The project also mandated a two-shift system, with one half of the workforce reporting earlier in the morning and the second later in the day in an attempt to lower the density of workers at any given time.

As of now, the University has not changed the original building plans as a result of the temporary construction suspension, Davenport said, adding that Facilities and Campus Services will continue to monitor the project’s progress.

“As with most of the world and in most industries, the information and impacts of COVID-19 are changing daily,” Davenport said. “Our project team is working diligently to track those impacts related to NCRE.”