Plans to expand McNamara delayed

The University had planned to expand the McNamara Alumni Center, but those plans may have to wait. The Board of Regents approved a $9.7 million expansion of McNamara at its last meeting, but Regent David Larson said the credit market is causing problems for the planned expansion. It will have no direct cost to the University, but the expansion needed to be approved because the University Gateway Corporation, which owns the alumni center, leases the land from the University. The Gateway Corporation will be funding the project through the sale of tax-exempt investment bonds. Tom LaSalle, University of Minnesota Alumni Association national president , also said construction has been temporarily delayed by conditions in the credit market. âÄúWhen Fannie Mae and Ginnie Mae got in trouble, they put a lot of debt back in the market to be resold,âÄù he said, âÄúWhen they did that, it caused rates [for borrowers] to go up.âÄù The project had been scheduled to begin in December of this year and finish Sept. 1, 2009. Depending on the market, construction will probably begin in February or March, LaSalle said. The September deadline would have resulted in the Alumni Center being completed around the same time as TCF Bank Stadium. But a start date in February or March will be better from a construction standpoint than December, LaSalle said. The addition will include 27,000 square feet, 15,000 of which will be new office space . Most of the office space will be divided between the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Minnesota Medical Foundation . âÄúWhat started us looking at this is that we did 900 events for 125,000 people. Then we started looking at expanding that lower level out by DâÄôAmicoâÄôs ,âÄù LaSalle said. The additional office space was added as an extension of the original plan. Larson said the alumni center has been a success and has been making a profit. There is demand for more space because the University of Minnesota Foundation has grown over the past 10 years. In addition to a large meeting area, the addition to the ground floor will have a glass atrium where the addition joins with the existing structure, and an expanded DâÄôAmicoâÄôs restaurant around the outside. The plan also includes the possibility of a fifth floor with another meeting room. âÄúI see it as an investment,âÄù Larson said.