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Regents reaffirm Confluence Project support, request Towers renovation funding

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents today approved its 2015-17 capital budget request, including support for the Confluence Project in downtown Eau Claire as well as $33 million for the renovation of Towers Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

The regents' capital budget request resolution reaffirmed the board's support for the Confluence Project and directed UW System President Ray Cross to work with the state Department of Administration to implement the project.

The state funding sought for the Confluence Project will be through the nonstate agency grant program, which provides funding for selected building projects through the biennial state budget.

"This is great news and gives us a very defined direction as we proceed in the next steps to secure state funding for the Confluence Project, which has been the goal since the project was first announced in May 2012," said UW-Eau Claire Chancellor James Schmidt. "We will work closely with UW System, our local partners and the Department of Administration to complete the nonstate agency grant application by the Sept. 12 deadline."

Funding for renovations of both 10-story wings of UW-Eau Claire's Towers residence hall also was included in the regents' biennial budget request. The improvements to the facility would cost nearly $33 million.

The Towers project would include the construction of additional common areas; improvements to resident rooms, bathrooms and hallways to meet current standards; and renovations to accommodate three new elevators at each core. Overall occupancy of the 245,618-square-foot facility would be reduced from 1,287 beds to about 1,092 beds to provide more space for common areas and the reconfiguration of bathrooms. HVAC systems would be upgraded, exterior windows replaced, and exterior brick, concrete and masonry walls repaired. The project would be phased to keep one tower operational while the other is being renovated.

"We are pleased to see this project recommended for enumeration in the 2015-17 capital budget," said Beth Hellwig, UW-Eau Claire vice chancellor for student affairs. "These renovations are needed to extend the life of Towers Hall and to help us reach the student housing goals set forth in UW-Eau Claire's 2010-2030 Campus Master Plan."

Towers Hall was built in 1967 and is one of nine UW-Eau Claire residence halls built between 1965 and 1969.