Gateway construction sticks to tight schedule

by Heather Fors

After a rocky start, cranes and concrete are moving fast on the corner of University Avenue and Oak Street. Officials expect the basement foundation for University Gateway to be finished in a few days.
Despite early delays, the anticipated completion of the structure is still fall 1999. Eric Kruse, associate vice president for Facilities Management, said construction is on schedule and moving ahead.
In the midst of construction and planning, a give-and-take relationship formed between the University and the Gateway Corporation, which consists of the Alumni Association, the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Minnesota Medical Foundation.
The corporation leases the land from the University, while the school will lease office space in the edifice.
“We have no capital investment in the building,” said Kruse about the University’s financial support of the Gateway project.
The building will house the University’s Board of Regents, offices for community outreach programs and other offices that are as yet undetermined.
The only other building on campus not owned by the school is the Radisson Hotel on Washington Avenue next to the construction site. Individual colleges can use space in the hotel, but the University does not rent space for offices or classes, said Georgina Stephens, treasurer and associate vice president for finance.
While the University might not have a hand in financing the welcome center’s construction, a 300-spot, one-level, underground parking garage on Washington Avenue and Oak Street is a University project. The estimated cost of the garage, which will be located next to the Gateway complex, is unknown. But officials are now starting the design process.
Mike Ramolae, assistant director of Parking and Transportation Services, said officials hope excavation will begin in early fall.
“That’s a stretch right now,” he said.
But other officials said it should be finished at the same time as the Gateway project.
A grassy plaza area will stretch from the building to the boundaries of what is now parking lot C82, which has about 320 contract spots. The new garage will likely mix contract and public parking, Ramolae said.
“It’s really a wash,” he said. “It’s basically replacement parking.”
If the garage consists of contract and public parking, Ramolae said there will be fewer total contract spots. But, he said, a relocation plan should accommodate commuters.