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UMW construction projects stay on track

The Hyatt Place Hotel being built in the University of Mary Washington’s Eagle Village is on schedule to open eight months from now as the first of several school construction projects to be completed. 

The hotel, about 30 percent finished, is on schedule and on budget, according to Rick Pearce, vice president for administration and finance. It will include 93 studio rooms or suites, several meeting and conference rooms available for public rental, a 24-hour food and beverage service and an indoor pool and fitness center.

The project is being developed by the nonprofit UMW Foundation, which has partnered with the city of Fredericksburg and the Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority.

“Everybody is excited about having a facility like that so close to campus,” Pearce said.

Pearce said construction on campus will disrupt traffic on College Avenue at some times, but the school is trying to limit those disruptions. He said UMW is letting its neighbors in College Heights know when traffic flow will be disturbed, and is trying to do all work that would block the roadway at night when there is less traffic.

UMW is also working on a new campus center, an information technology convergence center, a parking lot and renovations of two academic buildings.

The technology center, slated to open in spring or summer 2014, is 15 percent completed, Pearce said.

The building will serve as an “academic commons,” housing a data center, classrooms, offices, a digital theater, media labs, a café and numerous collaboration areas. The center will connect to Simpson Library through the third floor.

The nearly $26 million tech center building will encompass 76,718 square feet in four stories.

A new campus center to be constructed where Chandler Hall now stands facing Ball Circle is still in the planning stage. Chandler Hall will be taken down by the end of July and the center should be open by fall 2015.

Pearce said the school is still looking for a way to incorporate Chandler Hall’s existing columns and clock into the new center.

The $43 million, 108,000-square-foot campus center will feature a dining hall, food court, retail store, a ballroom, meeting spaces, student lounge areas and offices for student clubs and organizations. It will extend into the parking lot behind Chandler Hall on College Avenue.

To make up for those lost parking spaces, two houses owned by the UMW Foundation will be demolished to build a new parking lot with 48 spaces on Gordon Street next to the Pizza Hut.

Pearce said UMW hopes the lot will ease the parking woes that have been an issue in College Heights for students and residents.

The demolition of Chandler Hall will also displace two academic departments.

The college of business and the psychology department will move into Woodard Hall and Mercer Hall, respectively. Woodard Hall, the current campus center, will serve as “a front door for the college of business,” Pearce said.

The renovation will cost $16 million and include the reworking of existing space and additions to both buildings. The departments are expected to move into their new academic spaces by fall 2014.

The school plans on paying for the operating cost of the campus and technology centers by reallocating resources, increasing tuition and fees, growing dining subscriptions and securing state funds.

Two plans have been prepared by the administration.

In their “best-case scenario,” the state would provide some funding for educational and general programs space, which has historically been the case. The state would assume half of the cost for each of the new and renovated buildings except the campus center, which would not be eligible for state support.

Under that scenario, UMW will need to fund $551,550 on a permanent basis for operating costs.

Tuition would increase 0.4 percent during the 2013–14 year and and an additional 0.4 percent in the 2014–15 academic year. This represents a $19 increase each academic year for a full-time in-state undergraduate student.

Also, the comprehensive fee for students would increase half a percent for each of the next four years. That increase totals $14 per academic year.

The “worst-case scenario” includes no state funding and requires UMW to be responsible for the full operating cost of $1.07 million.

The plan calls for reallocating resources and growing meal plans, as in the best-case scenario. But tuition would increase by 0.8 percent in both 2013–14 and 2014–15, or $38 each academic year.

The comprehensive fee would increase by 1 percent for each of the next four years, totaling $28 each year.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

lestes@freelancestar.com

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