By Taylor Rexrode
The Old Main Lodge on Fourth Street will be demolished in February, creating a clear view from Interstate 35 of campus across a crisp green lawn.
The razing of the Old Main Lodge, a 38-year-old Best Western Hotel near the International House of Pancakes, is just one of many construction projects meant to help expand Baylor and make it aesthetically green.
Brian Nicholson, associate vice president for facility, planning and construction, sees the green space, whether temporary or not, as a positive change for the university.
“For the short term, it will be green space,” Nicholson said. “We will work with others on campus to figure out what is best. For now, green space will be good so you can see campus.”
Best Western gave up its lease in December when the hotel closed, weeks before the lease ran out in mid-January.
According to a Yahoo Travel site, the Old Main Lodge opened in 1974 as the closest hotel to Baylor campus where family, alumni and Waco visitors could stay during Baylor festivities.
The land between Interstate 35, University Parks Drive and South Fourth Street has been in Baylor possession for eight to 10 years.
Though the Old Main Lodge will fall, the International House of Pancakes adjacent to the hotel will not be touched.
Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, said the lease for the International House of Pancakes does not end until 2019.
“The tear-down of Old Main Lodge will set us up so we have space to expand whatever program we need to expand,” Nicholson said. “We have options now.”
Fogleman said the demolition of the Old Main Lodge will help fit into Baylor’s master plan for expansion.
“We’re always planning and discussing and dreaming of what we can do and what makes sense for Baylor and our neighbors in Waco,” Fogleman said. Nicholson also shed light on other construction projects on campus.
East Village Residential Community, which is projected to open this fall, will sit adjacent to a park-like setting between Second and Third streets. This “Fort Faculty” area between East Village and the Speight Plaza Office and Parking Facility will also be home to a new business building in the coming years.
“We are in the process of evaluating the current business building and it will be repurposed,” Nicholson said. “This expansion relates to Pro Futuris strategically by continuing the master plan of reinforcing campus development.”