In January 2016, finding a seat in the Reitz Union food court will be slightly easier.
About 250 seats will be added to the first-floor food court in an attempt to ease crowded lunch hours, said Eddie Daniels, the executive director of the Reitz Union.
The foundation is beginning on the basement floor near the loading dock.
In the next coming weeks, seating across from Pollo Tropical will expand outward, Daniels said. It was something they knew they needed, he added.
“We’re coming down to the wire in terms of completion,” Daniels said.
$1.8 million in funding made the seat-expansion project, which wasn’t in the original plan, possible, Daniels said.
They were able to find funds from Follett’s business with UF, the businesses service department at UF and the Reitz Union budget.
Foot traffic will be minimally impacted, Daniels said. Once the structure is built beneath the first floor, the booths that line the wall will be boarded up to separate outside construction from the food court.
Renovation of 60,000 square feet around and in the Reitz began in August 2013, said Mike Mironack, Reitz Union director of operations.
Brian Becker, 20, came to UF when the construction was just beginning.
The political science and economics junior, who eats at the Reitz Union food court once a week, said finding a table during the Fall and Spring semesters is tough.
The only tables left are usually in the center of the food court, which can be awkward to reach, he said.
“The door I normally use isn’t in use anymore,” Becker said, who’s had to find alternate ways to reach the food court.
Last week, the third floor was completely closed off along with a part of the first floor, forcing Student Government into the bike repair shop on the ground floor and moving many of the offices into the Career Resource Center on the first floor and the basement.
The move is temporary until the beginning of August, Mironack said.
After seven weeks, the offices will relocate to the third floor after construction finishes up.
While there is some disruption, it is being contained, he said.
Signs were printed and posted to help direct traffic through the construction.
The estimated date of completion is Dec. 26, Daniels said.
Daniels said Skanska, the contracting firm renovating the Reitz, estimated a 21-day delay, but is confident they will be able to make it up by working weekends and holidays.
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 6/18/15]