UH plans to spend $49M on Lab School
The university needs state approval to replace the building destroyed by arson
The University of Hawaii at Manoa is planning a $49.5 million building at the site where a 67-year-old wooden structure burned down in June at the UH Lab School.
The new building would replace offices and classrooms lost in the fire and could create 100 new offices and 20 new classrooms for the College of Education, which has been wanting to expand for more than a decade.
"We'll be able to improve our ability to train more teachers," said Donald Young, interim dean of the College of Education at UH-Manoa.
The money is part of a draft capital improvement budget for the university that proposes spending $718 million on university construction projects over the next two years. University officials briefed the Board of Regents on the budget yesterday.
Young said the college is hoping the new building will provide 60,000 square feet for offices, classrooms and perhaps an auditorium.
The university's budget proposal must be approved by UH President David McClain and the regents. The proposal also has to go through the Governor's Office, which will decide what projects to include in the administration's request to the Legislature, and it must also pass the Legislature before construction can start.
UH-Manoa administrators are seeking $4.1 million to design the building, and another $45.4 million for construction.
The university received about $1 million from an insurance policy, but it will likely be several months before a final settlement is reached.
Any insurance money will go back into the general fund, and the university will ask that it be used to help pay for construction, said Sam Callejo, the university's vice president for administration.
UH Lab School alumni and other donors also have raised more than $200,000 to help replace items not covered by insurance and to offset other losses from the fire. The money has not been spent yet, pending the insurance settlement, Manke said.
Arson is suspected in the June 16 fire that burned down the Lab School building. Damage was estimated at $6.5 million, but that was before hazardous materials were found in the debris, which has complicated the cleanup.
The 20,000-square-foot building housed about 30 full- and part-time workers for the College of Education, in addition to four Lab School classrooms and the school's music and physical education programs.
Young said he is recommending that two adjacent wooden buildings, which house about 50 College of Education faculty and other Lab School classrooms, also be torn down.
"The fear right now is that they're just as dangerous as the elementary building (that burned down). Logic would dictate that we replace those buildings," he said.
The College of Education has been seeking new office and classroom space since at least the early 1990s, when John Waihee was governor, Manke said.
Plans were drawn up, and there was even a groundbreaking ceremony in 1993 for a new College of Education building next to the building that burned down. But Gov. Ben Cayetano canceled the plans after he took office.
Because building codes have changed and the company that drew up the plans is now out of business, the university has to start from scratch, Young said.
"The old plans are no good," he said. "All of that planning work was useless."
The college has been lobbying the Legislature for the past three years for a new building, Young said.
Last year, the college's plans to lease the Atherton YMCA for office space ran into opposition from supporters of the Coffeline coffeehouse on the ground floor of the building.