The budget and finance committee of the State Board of Higher Education OK’d a number of student housing-related projects slated for UND, including new and upgraded residence halls on the university’s campus.
The latest action by the committee, at a meeting on July 20, puts those projects a step closer to reality. The largest of the projects is a plan to tear down then rebuild West and McVey Halls, while Brannon Hall would see an extensive remodel. Selke and Noren would also see some improvements, and would become residence halls for more budget-conscious students.
UND’s plan is to partner with Johnson Controls, Plenary, Corvias -- called JCP -- for the multi-building project, which has the goal of bringing housing on campus into alignment with the number of students who live there. The project will also eliminate millions of dollars in deferred maintenance.
“We're basically at a point where our negotiations are substantially completed,” said Jed Shivers, vice president of finance and operations at UND. “The resolution is for you to enable us to move forward so that the remaining items and the contract, if you approve it, can be executed by the (UND President Andrew Armacost) and (NDUS Chancellor Mark Hagerott).”
Committee members did exactly that, with a unanimous vote. The project needs to be brought before the full Board of Higher education at a meeting later this week. Board members previously discussed the project at a meeting in June.
Tim Mihalick, who chairs the budget and finance committee, spoke in favor of the project and said he finds it appealing, because it addresses campus building issues.
“It solves deferred maintenance issues, and begins to right-size the housing on the campuses,” Mihalick said. “It delivers what I think is what the students are looking for.”
The committee also signed off on allowing UND to restructure a portion of its debt. Two series of bonds totaling more than $25 million, taken out for the Wellness Center in 2012 and for the Hamline apartments in 2013, will be refinanced to take advantage of lower interest rates.
In other Budget and Finance Committee news, members:
Approved an extensive plan to demolish several apartment buildings and older residence halls on campus. In total, 29 apartment buildings are set to be razed over a 10-year period, along with the residence halls. Including West and McVey Halls, which will be torn down then rebuilt, Bek, Hancock, Squires and Walsh Halls will be torn down. Apartments to be demolished include a 72-unit building on University Avenue, multiple eight-plexes and several other buildings scattered across the residential areas of UND’s campus.
Buildings slated for demolition have outlived their useful lives UND administrators said, and updating them is not financially feasible. Tearing them down is estimated to save the university about $61 million. UND must document the building to comply with requests from the State Historical Society, which is pursuant to the State Board of Higher Education policy. Lots where the buildings were located will remain empty, giving UND the option to seek private development there in the future.
Approved the transfer of slightly more than $1 million from UND to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, to cover compensation increases and health insurance costs.