State Building Commission approves two projects

UW-Eau Claire footbridgeThe State Building Commission March 21 approved two UW-Eau Claire projects for inclusion in the 2013-15 state capital budget: a new upper-campus residence hall and Garfield Avenue corridor improvements.

The projects were recommended in Gov. Scott Walker’s capital budget, which will be considered by the full state Legislature this spring.

New residence hall

The new residence hall project will construct an approximately 350-bed, semi-suite style residence hall, the first of its kind at UW-Eau Claire, on upper campus. The building will provide a significant number of single rooms with shared bathrooms and include recreational, study and community amenities typical to student residence halls.

UW-Eau Claire has 4,080 residence hall beds on campus, 324 of which are in apartment/single-suite units in the most recently constructed residence hall, 12-year-old Chancellors Hall. The remaining 3,756 beds are in traditional double rooms in buildings with an average age of 40 years.

A market study of campus housing was conducted for the creation of UW-Eau Claire’s 20-year Campus Facilities Master Plan, said Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor for facilities and university relations.

“The study found a potential demand for 4,700 beds, but that a mix of room types, especially singles, would be desirable,” Rindo said. “It also found that existing halls are over capacity and that additional beds are necessary to relieve crowded conditions. Additionally, for more than a decade, the university has housed students in local hotels — including approximately 150 in fall 2012.”

The new residence hall project may be the first phase of a building with multiple similar wings if the selected site supports that density, Rindo said. The site, bordered by Horan, Governors, Sutherland and Bridgman halls, will be developed to implement design ideas in the master plan, including creation of a quad area on upper campus while preserving open space as much as possible, he said.

No tax dollars will be used for the $35 million residence hall; it will be funded by housing fees paid by students.

Garfield Avenue corridor improvements

The Garfield Avenue improvement project will reconstruct Garfield Avenue from the terminus of the city of Eau Claire right-of-way near the Ecumenical Religious Center west of Hibbard Humanities Hall to the base of the hill leading to upper campus, including the current Putnam parking lot.

Work will include improvement or replacement of water lines, steam and steam condensate lines, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, roadway surface, curb and gutter, sidewalks and lighting, Rindo said. The roadway will be realigned to allow reconfiguration of the south end of the Chippewa River footbridge for better pedestrian and bicyclist safety and handicap accessibility. Project work also will include renovation of the Roosevelt Avenue cul-de-sac to include a campus gateway entrance, construction of an outdoor classroom at the site of the current Putnam parking lot, and construction of accessible parking to replace parking lost when the roadway is realigned.

Consistent with design ideas in the master plan, the Garfield Avenue corridor will be improved with new bicyclist and pedestrian access, plazas, landscaping and signage.

The $12.4 million project will be paid for with a combination of $6.127 million in general fund (tax dollars) supported borrowing, $6.297 million in program revenue (non-tuition, non-tax dollars) supported borrowing, gifts and grants.