RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
The Frear Hall dormitory, shown here yesterday, on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus, is to be demolished to make way for a new, larger dormitory. Construction is scheduled to start in February.
Officials gear up for new UH dorm
Officials held an informal blessing ceremony yesterday as they geared up to replace a closed dormitory with a new complex to house students at the University of Hawaii in Manoa.
Officials from American Campus Communities, a company based in Austin, Texas, and representatives from the University of Hawaii and Swinerton Builders attended the ceremony in front of Frear Hall.
American Campus Communities was selected to construct a new 12-story building with room for 810 beds. Demolition is scheduled to start sometime after July 4, according to Clint Braun, vice president of construction management for American Campus Communities.
The Frear Hall dormitory complex, built in the early 1950s, was shut down in 1997 due to a lack of funding to repair aged electrical and plumbing work.
Last year, Gov. Linda Lingle and the state Legislature approved funding appropriated for construction of a new dormitory complex at the Frear Hall site.
Asbestos in the floor tiles has been removed as part of the abatement work of the project.
Workers will use heavy machinery and equipment to knock down the walls.
Construction is scheduled to start in February. Officials hope to have the complex open to students by fall 2008. Cost of the project is estimated at $61 million.
Officials plan to salvage a plaque built into a wall near the entrance that dedicates the dormitory to Mary Dillingham Frear, a member of the UH Board of Regents from 1920 to 1945. Officials also plan to save a mosaic-tiled counter near the entrance depicting fish and coral in the ocean. UH officials plan to incorporate the counter and the plaque into the new building.
"I think student housing is desperately needed," said Grant Teichman, president of the Associated Students of the University of Hawaii, who attended the blessing ceremony. "We hope to make the waiting list a thing of the past."
UH officials said they currently have 3,000 dormitory beds available for students. Their goal is to increase the availability to 5,000 students.
Right now, housing is available for 15 percent of the students at UH-Manoa, Chancellor Denise Konan said. "Our goal is to have 25 percent of beds available."
Meanwhile, UH officials are working on a master plan to increase the number of beds to 6,000 from 5,000 in the next eight years. "Right now, we're identifying sites on campus," Konan said.