U unveils plans for ‘new campus’

Regents saw plans for the East Gateway District and ideas for an Urban Agenda partnership.

Elena Rozwadowski

By 2009, the University would like to see a campus comparable to the West Bank envelop TCF Bank Stadium.

University officials presented an $18.2 million plan Thursday to the Board of Regents to develop East Gateway District, the area around the future on-campus stadium.

“This is more than just a stadium,” said Kathleen O’Brien, vice president of University Services. “We are building a new campus.”

The district will be home to the medical bioscience building, which has already been funded, along with eight to 10 additional biomedical research facilities. The University also plans to build surface parking lots and a light rail transit station.

The project also calls for several environmental efforts, including a storm sewer system and contamination cleanup of the soil under existing parking lots.

The project will be funded by University debt.

A few regents raised concerns about the plan. Regent David Metzen asked about parking alternatives during construction in order to “remain sensitive to student parking needs.”

O’Brien said many alternatives would be available during different phases of the project.

“To say we not only have plan A and B, but plan J, K and L is most accurate,” O’Brien said. “This is a moving plan, but one we’re working very hard on.”

The University projected construction of the district, including the medical bioscience building and the stadium, to be complete in fall or winter 2009.

Brainstorming the urban agenda

In the regents’ work session on Thursday afternoon, University Senior Vice President Robert Jones and other faculty members presented ideas for the Urban Agenda, an initiative that would form a partnership between the University and north Minneapolis.

The partnership could help north Minneapolis youth and enhance research initiatives at the University, Jones said.

As a land-grant university, Jones said, the University needs to use its “academic resources to solve complex issues facing urban communities in the 21st century.”

As the project moves forward, Jones and others will develop programs and studies that will examine childhood development in north Minneapolis within the context of poverty and diversity. The Urban Agenda calls for assessments and treatment for children between the ages of 10 and 18 that have been jailed.

The agenda received enthusiastic comments from the regents, many saying they were excited to see the University applying its research to the community.

University President Bob Bruininks also praised the presenters’ efforts.

“If we’re going to be a great university, we have to act with great purpose,” Bruininks said.

Regent Steven Hunter raised a concern of the program’s sustainability, and others questioned the evaluation of the program and potential funding sources.

Jones and others will continue to refine their ideas and will present a more detailed proposal to the board in the coming months.

Other business

The Facilities Committee approved capital budget amendments to fund work on three University buildings.

The West Bank Office Building and 90 Church Street Data Centers will receive about $1.5 million to improve the cooling systems. About $1.4 million will remodel the second floor of Johnston Hall and add a new air conditioning system.

The Board also heard presentations on a university-wide audit and the University’s energy conservation efforts.

Regents will discuss the future of Northrop Auditorium and the annual capital financing and debt management report Friday.

The meeting will be held at McNamara Alumni Center at 9 a.m. in the boardroom.