Aug 232009
 
Authors: Jessica Cline

CSU has saved $10 million on all capital construction projects, either recently finished or currently underway, because of lower construction costs related to the recession, Facilities Management officials said last week.

In addition to paying lower prices for labor and materials, the university got better interest rates on its bonds, multi-milliondollar loans from large investment corporations, sold on Wall Street to fund construction.

And with all of the ongoing projects –/totaling almost $400 million — on budget and completed or near-completed projects coming in under budget, CSU can afford improved amenities, said Facilities Management Director Brian Chase.

“We have been very fortunate because of the recession, and we have been able to save money because of competitive pricing,” Chase said. “Because of this we have been able to get things we didn’t think we could afford.”

Most commonly, facilities are boasting increased square-footage.

The Rockwell Hall expansion, which adds 48,000-square-foot of building for the College of Business, will now feature a coffee bar and extra basement rooms.

The Student Recreation Center was able to increase facility space allowing for martial arts and boxing space, extra storage area, more cardio and exercise equipment space and other amenities.

Remaining funds paid for a multi-activity court, a larger rock wall and bouldering area, and possibly a larger pool area that will include a hot tub and sauna.

“The recession has been positive on construction because we have been able to add a lot back into our projects,” said Judy Muenchow, the executive director for Campus Recreation. “In our case it is very beneficial because we have increased our square footage a lot and were able to add amenities for students that they will be very pleased about and will really be able to use.”

The Athletic Academic and Training Building was able to buy more weights and equipment than first thought.

One of the most recent projects is improvement of the Lagoon and West Lawn.

The construction will provide a storm water retention area to prevent flooding in the future as well as provide an additional recreation space –/two new soccer fields — for students.

And this project, too, has yielded a cheaper price tag, totaling $650,000.

The original plan was to lay grass seed over the entire space, which would have made the area unavailable for more than a year. Because of cheap sod prices, however, CSU was able to sod the whole area, making it usable sooner.

The project, said Fred Haberecht, assistant director of Landscape and Planning, is right on schedule and budget. He said the renovations are about 40 percent complete.

There are a few smaller projects going on around campus including renovations of all of the larger lecture rooms in Clark. They are being redone with new desks, chairs, white boards, carpets and audio-visual equipment.

All of these projects were planned and budgeted before the country went into a recession and are part of CSU’s Stretch Goals to increase the size of campus to accommodate anticipated future growth.

“Once the commitment is made and the money is taken out, it does not make sense to give the money back,” Chase said of the almost $400 million in bonds the university sold on Wall Street to fund CSU’s 17 capital construction projects, either completed in the last couple years or currently underway.

“All construction projects that have been committed to are currently under way,” Chase said. “Everything else will be held off on until we know where the economy is going.”

The university is mandated to repay the bonds within 30 years and after secured, must be used for the specified construction projects in accordance with the bond financing provisions, Interim Provost Rick Miranda said in an e-mail to the Collegian in March.

“In other words, we are committed to the bond-holders to move forward on these projects, and stopping construction is not a legal option,” he said in the e-mail.

Staff writer Jessica Cline can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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