Cleanup delays residence hall project

by Jessica Steeno

University administrators Thursday delayed the release of plans to create a new residence hall from an old research building on East River Road.
Early cost estimates show that the project, as it was originally contracted, would cost more than $11 million, about $2 million more than planned. The building that will be remodeled, The Mineral Resources Research Center, was closed in 1991 because of budget cutbacks.
Asbestos removal and the cleanup of hazardous materials related to research done in the building, will cost more than administrators originally anticipated. Currently, the project is budgeted at $9.2 million, most of which will be provided by an internal University loan.
The project was projected to be finished this fall, but it may have to be pushed back while administrators look for a way to decrease clean-up costs.
“The environmental cleanup issue simply throws the curve ball that we need to deal with,” said McKinley Boston, University vice president of Student Development and Athletics.
Boston said the project will eventually happen but not until it can be done within current funding.
“If we went over the projected $9.2 million, we really believe that the building would not be affordable to students,” Boston said.
The internal University loan has to be paid back at 5.5 percent interest using the money acquired through rent students living in the building would pay.
When the project is finished, it would be an apartment-style residence hall with the capacity to house 138 students.
Boston said they hope to have a better idea of when the project will be completed by the May Board of Regents meeting.