Construction at the University of Houston-Victoria Northwest, 1604 E. Airline Road, is almost finished with offices including Athletics, the Small Business Development Center and the Center for Regional Collaboration ready to welcome students and the community this fall.
“We are really excited to welcome our faculty, staff, students and community members into this facility this fall,” said Matt Alexander, UHV director of capital projects. “We are proud to give new life to a well-known structure in Victoria, and we hope that this facility will continue to benefit the whole community for years to come.”
UHV broke ground on the 44,000-square-foot former Town Plaza Mall in June 2019. The building has been renovated to house the UHV Small Business Development Center, the Center for Regional Collaboration, Athletics, the university’s kinesiology program and university classrooms. Also included in the building is a multi-purpose room, administrative offices, and a climate-controlled space for records retention, storage and additional UHV Library books.
Staff members have begun to move into offices in the building, but there still will be some construction to complete this summer before classes start in the fall, Alexander said.
SBDC and the Center for Regional Collaboration staff began moving into their new offices at the beginning of May, and UHV Athletics staff will move into the building after the spring sports season is complete, Athletics Director Ash Walyuchow said. Athletics will have offices located near the kinesiology program labs and performance center.
The SBDC and the Center for Regional Collaboration will share a hallway, a conference room and a multi-purpose room. The multi-purpose room can host 180 people with tables and chairs and can be divided into three separate rooms. The Center for Regional Collaboration received a $1 million grant from the Economic Development Administration for the portion of the building that houses both the center staff and the SBDC staff, as well as the multi-purpose room the centers share.
Eventually, events such as workshops, classes and trainings will be held there, UHV SBDC Director Lindsay Young said.
The move is especially meaningful to the SBDC staff, who have been in three different locations throughout the years, including a rented suite in the Laurent Tower most recently, she said.
“It’s nice to see the concept renderings of the building come to life,” Young said. “We could not be more excited to be in a new home.”
UHV Northwest also is a place for the Center for Regional Collaboration to call home, Director Donald Jirkovsky said. The center’s staff, which does regional outreach to area rural communities, will be able to host meetings and workshops with community members in the new space. Although Jirkovsky and his staff have traveled to rural communities to meet with community partners, Jirkovsky is excited that the center now has a place for community members to congregate. The center plans to start gradually meeting with community partners when the building is complete.
“So many meetings have been virtual during the past year, and once everything is ready and safe, we are going to welcome our community partners,” Jirkovsky said. “There are so many resources and assets in this area, and when you group them together, it’s an amazing region. We look forward to hosting our community partners here in the near future.”
The UHV Library already has moved books and other documents into the new storage warehouse portion of the building. The area holds books and archives from UHV, Victoria College and documents from surrounding counties including DeWitt, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Calhoun, Lavaca and Victoria.
Some of the documents and other archived books date back to the 1800s, said Brittany Rodriguez, UHV special collections librarian. The library storage warehouse is climate-controlled for historical archives and has technology that will alert library staff if the temperature and humidity in the warehouse goes out of the proper range needed to keep the archives and other historical documents in good condition.
Although the library storage warehouse is not open to the public, students and community members can request copies or other items through the UHV Library.
“This is just the space we needed to have the archives and other items of historical value in one place,” Rodriguez said. “It feels great to have a dedicated space for historical documents in a building that so many people from the community recognize.”
The UHV kinesiology program has begun moving equipment into the new sports performance center of the building and is ready to welcome back students for face-to-face classes in the fall. The new state-of-the-art kinesiology lab was funded as part of a $1.5 million gift from the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation. The main goal of the performance center is to provide students with the knowledge to develop strength and conditioning programs to enhance athletic performance, said Raymond Tucker, a UHV associate professor of kinesiology.
“For students who will be working with the general population, the goal of the training program will be developing quality movement patterns and increasing power, flexibility and mobility that we eventually lose when we age,” he said.
Students in the program will have the opportunity to use high-tech equipment such as an electric timer similar to the one used in the NFL Combine, a vertical test jumper and a functional movement screen. Students also will be able to have hands-on learning experiences using equipment for various techniques in speed, plyometrics and weightlifting exercises.
In addition to the sports performance center, the building also has labs available to students in the kinesiology program. The program plans to host camps at the new facility beginning summer 2022 for high school athletes and the general population. These camps will provide opportunities for UHV students in the kinesiology program to have hands-on experience in coaching, teaching and demonstrating correct techniques to enhance athletic performance. The program also plans to host various strength and conditioning clinics and events related to sports performance training.
“With this new facility and equipment, our program will continue to improve and grow,” Tucker said. “There’s so much that we will be able to do now, and we look forward to the future camps and workshops we will be able to host. We are excited to be back to more face-to-face classes this fall and have students start using this new facility.”