University to remove structurally unsound Belk Tower

Plans are in the works to remove the Belk Tower, which UNC Charlotte personnel and outside consulting engineers have determined to have significant structural issues.

In an Oct. 17 statement to campus, Chancellor Philip L. Dubois wrote, “Although the tower is not an immediate risk to campus, it does pose a potential safety hazard, and it is prudent to take precautions. The deterioration of the tower is the natural result of age-related corrosion, water penetration and rust that have damaged the tower’s concrete, metal and electrical components.”

Dubois said repair and renovation of the tower would cost approximately $1 million. The UNC Charlotte Board of Trustees agreed unanimously to establish an immediate pedestrian safety zone around the Belk Tower, which will remain until the tower is dismantled during winter break.

A campus symbol since the 1970s, the Belk Tower was funded through a gift from Irwin Belk and his three brothers — John, Thomas and Henderson. Surviving members of the Belk family were consulted about the tower and support the University’s plans, Dubois said. To recognize the Belk family’s generosity to the University, the Board of Trustees has agreed to designate the area around the tower Belk Plaza.

An online survey is soliciting the demand by individuals to purchase small pieces of the Belk Tower as a memento. Alumni, faculty, staff, students and others have until Nov. 1 to take the survey. As of this morning, nearly 3,000 individuals had responded to the survey and more than 80 percent expressed an interest in purchasing part of the tower. Of those who responded, nearly 75 percent would be willing to pay up to $25 for a Belk Tower memento.

A online petition also has been launched to protest the demolition of the tower. At press time Monday morning, about 540 individuals have signed it.