Biosciences building plans might be delayed


Construction of the biosciences building, which received $30 million in funding from the state will be delayed pending approval from the Central Michigan University Board of Trustees.

Funding for the $95 million facility, to house the biology and various science departments, was expected to be voted on at the February trustees meeting, but Vice President of Facilities Management Steve Lawrence said his team does not plan to suggest any construction efforts then.

“I don’t think we are going to ask (the board) in February,” Lawrence said. “We haven’t decided when (construction) is going to happen yet because the date hasn’t been determined."

Schematics for the project were presented to the board in December, but voting to fund it, touted as the university’s most expensive academic building on campus, was pushed to the February meeting. Trustee Sarah Opperman was the only trustee to speak publicly about the project after the presentation, questioning whether CMU should spend the money, estimated to be around $65 million.

The building is slated for construction on the plot where Washington Street Apartments currently sits. The tenants will be offered other units on campus for family housing at Kewadin Village and Northwest Apartments when the date is set.

Associate Vice President of Residences and Auxiliary Services John Fisher confirmed the demolition and construction dates are not currently scheduled, but moving students is something the university had to deal with when the Education and Human Services Building was constructed.

“We’ve gone through this transition before when EHS was built,” Fisher said. “Some decide to move, others graduate.”

Lawrence said there is no way around demolishing Washington CourtApartments.

“You can’t build on top of (the apartments),” Lawrence said. “So, we’ll have to tear them down just like when we tore (apartments) down for the education building."

There are no plans for replacing the apartments once demolished.

“It’s not just families in Washington Courts; there are single students, too,” Fisher said. “There are no plans as of right now for additional apartments beyond the graduate student housing to be built. That doesn’t mean there won’t be more in the future."

The biosciences building itself will be four stories, not including a fifth floor for the mechanical room penthouse, which is much smaller than the rest of the building. There will be a 225-seat auditorium, an imaging center with a row of cubicles for graduate students and numerous labs, Lawrence said. Faculty offices will be on the outside of the building at both ends.

The total project cost for the building is set at $95.23 million. That figure includes the costs of design, construction, fees and permits for reviews, furnishings, demolition costs, labor, additional lab equipment and move-in.

Last summer, CMU secured the $30 million as part of a college infrastructure project approved by the Michigan Legislature. The university plans to gain the additional $65 million through fundraising and donations.


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