Construction on north campus graduate housing set to begin in November

A $28.5-million project that will provide additional housing to graduate students is scheduled for completion in March 2013.

The north campus apartment housing project, approved Thursday by the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees, will consist of 94 units in two buildings. The facility will be located on Bellows Street, west of the Carlin Alumni House.

"It's located in a very convenient location," said Steve Lawrence, associate vice president of Facilities Management. "It's just north of the Health Professions Building, so it's very close to the College of Medicine and the activity there."

The apartments are being built to replace several Washington Court buildings that have been demolished to make way for the Education and Human Services Building. Plans call for them to primarily house medical students and visiting scholars.

Construction will begin in November, and upon its completion in March 2013, will be ready for occupancy the following June.

There were a number of announcements during Thursday's meeting including the approval of  a $1.5 million renovation to Real Food on Campus residential restaurant.

The facility will also include a Mongolian grill station in the future, as well as renovated food stations that already exist.

During the meeting trustees gave an evaluation of University President George Ross, commending him for his work but not giving him a $50,000-performance bonus.

"In summary, a strong performance for 2010-11 ending June 30," said Chairwoman Sarah Opperman. "No bonus, in keeping with the current financial priorities and consistent with other actions that have been taken throughout the university and strong improvements  in fundraising."

An independent auditor also presented trustees with results for the fiscal year that ended in June. CMU recorded $394 million in operating expenses and $155 million in debt.

CMU also saw an increase in unrestricted net assets of nearly $50 million, from $228 million to $276 million.

Jeffrey Fineis, a partner at the Lansing-based Andrews Hooper Pavlik PLC, said that amount in unrestricted funds is a good level to be at, given the university's expenditures.

Meanwhile, funding for the graduate housing will come from two sources — capital reserves and loans from three local banks. No tuition or tax dollars are being used to cover construction costs.

Central Michigan University has saved $10 million that will be used for the first part of the project, while the remaining $18.5 million will come from local financing. Authorization for the loans will likely show up on the board's December or February 2012 agenda, said David Burdette, vice president of Finance and Administrative Services.

"We don't want to take that financing authorization until we need it," Burdette said. "Once we take the loan, we'd have to start paying interest on it."

At Thursday's meeting, trustees also approved a motion for administrators to contract with PNC Bank for an increase in CMU's monthly line of credit. The university's current credit limit is $1 million and would increase to as much as $5 million under the adopted resolution.

The apartments will contain kitchens, washers and dryers, air conditioning, cable television, WiFi and optional furnishings.

"It is designed to be a graduate student housing apartment project that is basically going to be energy-efficient, very functional, and at the same time, aesthetically pleasing," said John Fisher, associate vice president of Residences and Auxiliary Services.

Real Food on Campus

For the Real Food on Campus project, money will come from the Residences and Auxiliary Services replacement and renovation fund pool.

"It is in great need of some renovation and refurbishing," Fisher said. "It is our largest and busiest residential restaurant on this campus."

The facility serves about 2,000 students and has not been significantly remodeled for nine years, he said.


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