717 Delaware in phase one of construction

Mike Enright

The University bought the building opposite Territorial Hall from the Minnesota Department of Health in March 2005.

A year and a half later, its doors are just about to open, if only just a crack.

The steering committee that oversees renovations of the six-story, 200,000 square foot building, named 717 Delaware, met Tuesday to discuss progress as the project nears a major milestone.

The first of two construction phases, approved by the Board of Regents in July, is nearing completion. The committee is now focusing on transitioning into phase two, which will provide laboratory and office space for the College of Pharmacy, the Medical School, the School of Public Health and the Academic Health Center’s Office of Clinical Research.

Phase one

Donald Adderley, the AHC’s senior facilities planner, said he expects the phase-one construction, which consists of the building’s fourth and sixth floors, to be mostly complete by Dec. 1. The building’s first resident, drug discovery and development researcher Gunda Georg, will be able to move in Jan. 15.

Loralee Wederstrom, AHC’s director of capital planning said the timing is “a miracle.”

Wederstrom said the building’s planning was accelerated and broken into phases to accommodate Georg’s moving schedule.

Georg, who’s currently at the University of Kansas, is coming to the University of Minnesota to lead the medicinal chemistry department in the College of Pharmacy, according to the AHC’s Web site. Her research largely focuses on analyzing chemical compounds and computer data to discover drugs that could treat diseases such as cancer or Alzheimer’s.

Georg will have lab space covering half of the fourth floor and the entire sixth floor, Adderley said.

Wederstrom said the cost of the phase-one renovations totaled $11 million, with $3 million from AHC funds and $8 million covered by University debt, which will be paid back by the AHC over time.

Phase two

The Board of regents must now look at the phase two construction plans and approve them before construction can proceed further.

Adderley said the phase-two plans, estimated to cost $25.5 million, will go before the regents this month and they will make their decision in December.

“It’s a capital budget amendment,” Wederstrom said. “So it’s a two-step process.”

She said the regents are already aware of 717 Delaware’s phase-two plan and it is expected to be approved.

Funding for the project will come from a combination of University debt and the University’s proposed Biomedical Sciences Research Facilities Authority request to the Minnesota Legislature.

Beth Nunnally, AHC associate vice president, said the University plans to include $16.2 million for this building in the request. The remaining $9.3 million will be covered by University debt.

Adderly said the Legislature will consider the University’s request this upcoming spring. Barring any delays, the entire project is expected to be completed by this time next year.