The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees voted this week to have the university’s administration proceed with several aspects of the work involved with constructing at least $300 million worth of dormitories in the coming years.
The trustees voted to have administrators proceed “with urgency” in issuing bonds to fund the project.
Administrators have also been told to proceed with renovating Hill Hall, a now vacant dormitory, into office space.
Trustees have approved administrators to spend up to $1 million on the Hill Hall project.
$750,000 has been appropriated from UW’s major maintenance fund for Hill Hall’s renovation, with another $250,000 coming from the university’s housing reserve account to move office equipment and other furnishings into the renovated dorm.
Hill Hall is planned to house employees currently working in Wyoming Hall, which trustees have now voted to demolish in the spring, clearing the way for construction of at least one dorm building at the northeast corner of campus.
Employees who currently work in Wyoming Hall are expected to move into Hill Hall over UW’s winter break.
Just two years ago, Hill and Crane halls were slated for demolition. But with $750,000 being invested into Hill, UW leaders are now thinking the building will eventually be converted back into dorms in coming years once the office space is no longer needed.
“This is a building that is going to last us far into the future,” said Matt Kibbon, director of facilities construction management.
At last week’s meeting of the trustees’ budget committee, Trustee John McKinley said the approved work will likely necessitate $100 million to $150 million in financing.
The action by the trustees mirrors the recommendations made by a legislative committee, the UW Housing Task Force, which signed off in the proposals in early February.
While actions like the Wyoming Hall demolition have been discussed by the task force for more than a year, one major decision made last week was a relatively new idea.
As part of the trustees’ votes, administrators are directed to proceed with the construction of a parking garage on Ivinson Avenue, directly south of Old Main. During the task force’s 2018 discussions, committee members were originally looking to first erect a parking garage on the block that currently houses the UW Police building. While building a second parking garage on that block is still part of UW’s plans, the task force has prioritized the Ivinson parking garage so that UW Police will have a new home before their current building is demolished.
The Ivinson parking garage is intended to accommodate motorists as the dorms construction is likely to eliminate about 600 existing parking spaces from the west side of 15th Street.
McKinley said administrators will still need to sort through one planning issue regarding the Ivinson lot before the parking garage is built.
There’s an alley dedicated on the plat bisecting the parking lot. McKinley said that obviously will “need to be addressed on the front end.”
Along with directing the administrators to build “an appropriate number of buildings along the western edge of 15th Street,” the trustees have also directed administrators to incorporate food service facilities in the area of the new dorms.
In 2018, the task force was looking to build new dorms to house 2,000 students.
The trustees are now looking to, instead, to renovate a number of buildings on the campus core to become dorms.
Last week’s vote instructs the administrators to evaluate Ross Hall, Knight Hall and Hoyt Hall to determine whether it would be feasible to convert those buildings into dorms.
Matt Newman, an architect for UW, said that Ross Hall is “the most easily adaptable into student housing.”
The drafted master plan presented to trustees last week envisions Ross Hall eventually housing 304 beds and Knight Hall as housing 216 beds.