Regents’ committee reviews possible purchase on 4th Street

Two days after announcing a hiring pause, the University of Minnesota asked the Board of RegentsâÄô Facilities Committee to review a $1.25 million purchase of two adjacent lots facing both Fourth Street Southeast and the intercampus Transitway . The proposed purchase would provide a new home for the University Facilities ManagementâÄôs Landcare division , and would be financed by University debt. The division has been temporarily housed in multiple locations for several years as the University searches for properties in the area. One of the current locations, 2346 Fourth St. S.E., is about to be converted into a University parking lot for the East Gateway District , and will eventually become a transit hub for the Central Corridor Light Rail. In addition to the $1.25 million purchase price, the proposal would provide $41,096 for penalties incurred for early termination of a mortgage , and compensation for the relocation of the Savoie Supply Company , a business owned by the same person who owns the lots in question. Sue Weinberg, director of the UniversityâÄôs Real Estate Office , said the building sitting on the lot has reached the end of its useful life, and would need to be demolished. Plans for the new building wonâÄôt be completed for the RegentsâÄô approval until spring, but she said they will include both office and storage space. She estimated the total cost of the purchase, demolition, and construction to be around $4.5 million. Regent David Larson expressed his concerns about the cost of the facility, saying that it seemed awfully expensive for offices and parking. Vice President for University Services Kathleen OâÄôBrien called the acquisition a prudent purchase. She said there were benefits to having Landcare close to campus, and that the University has been looking for a suitable place for these facilities for years. It would also be a sensible investment, she said, because the propertyâÄôs value will increase when the light rail comes in and more businesses start moving into the area. Larson asked for a more detailed cost analysis to be prepared for the next meeting. Brad Hoff, Facilities ManagementâÄôs chief administrative officer, said the new facility would house four Landcare crews and their equipment. The Landcare division removes snow, trims trees, cares for lawns, removes graffiti and designs and installs landscapes and irrigation on both Twin Cities campuses. Because of the new locationâÄôs proximity to the new TCF Bank Stadium , Hoff said Parking and Transportation Services would be able to use some of the space on game days to store things like roadblocks. The proposal will be voted on at the next Facilities Committee meeting, on Dec. 11.