UNM updates taproom proposal; cuts cost in half

January 8, 2018 - Jessica Dyer, ABQ Journal

The University of New Mexico’s proposed taproom may cost half as much as originally estimated and could open as early as this fall — though it still needs the right approvals.

UNM staff presented an updated proposal Tuesday to build a taproom inside the Student Union Building, saying a scaled-back design had helped bring the costs down to $650,000 from a $1.3 million projection cited last summer.

The taproom would go in what is currently a seating area at the SUB’s southeast corner and extend outside with a patio.

UNM would use Dining & Food Services money to cover half the cost. Capital investment funds provided by UNM’s food service contractor, Chartwells, would pay the rest, officials with UNM’s Institutional Support Services told the Board of Regents’ Finance and Facilities Committee on Tuesday.

A tentative schedule indicated the taproom could open by August.

But the plan did not advance out of committee. Regents Tom Clifford and Alex Romero asked for more information about the liability implications before taking any action that could potentially advance the project to the full Board of Regents.

Romero noted, however, that he supported the concept.

“I just want to make sure that a year from now, two years from now, as we look back that we did the things we needed to do to ensure we had done all of our due diligence,” he said.

Students first raised the taproom idea in 2016. A task force representing various groups convened to study it, and students from UNM’s School of Architecture and Planning worked on the design.

The initial plan would have cost about $1.3 million, but architecture instructor Christopher Beccone said students have simplified some portions — like what had been an elaborate ceiling design — to help reduce costs.

The taproom would operate under an existing beer and wine license UNM has for the SUB, according to ISS Executive Director Melanie Sparks.

Chartwells recently issued a “request for information” to gauge local breweries’ interest in possible partnerships or involvement in a campus taproom.

Sparks said Tuesday that UNM and Chartwells are now evaluating the six responses that arrived by last Friday’s deadline but did not specify which breweries answered.