University regents have $71M plan for Frear Hall
LIHUE » University of Hawaii regents approved a $71 million cap on the ongoing construction project of Frear Hall, an 841-bed dormitory at the Manoa campus.
And that will be the first step of many to improve housing at UH-Manoa if Francisco Hernandez, UH-Manoa vice chancellor for students, has a say in it.
Hernandez, a recent appointment, said he has spent the first month and a half at his new job looking into the "student housing challenge," the title of his presentation at yesterday's Board of Regents meeting at Kauai Community College.
While many students indicate a desire to live on campus, Hernandez said, he described the facilities as the main reason for student complaints.
"The word 'sucks' would be appropriate in today's vernacular," he said.
Campus officials want to add more beds to UH's flagship campus, but refurbishment of old facilities must be accomplished as well, Hernandez said.
He said maintenance backlogs, due to funding constraints, will likely cost the university about $45 million.
According to the draft budget, $56 million has been requested to fix deferred maintenance projects universitywide.
The suggestion to completely refurbish and add about 1,500 beds at Manoa, put together by a consultant looking into solving the housing dilemma, "would require a lot of phasing, a lot of planning." Hernandez said.
It would also cost about $385 million.
So far, the university has about $125 million in bond money already approved toward housing. That includes $25 million from the state in general obligation bonds and the approval from the legislature to float up to another $100 million in revenue bonds. That includes the $71 million earmarked for Frear Hall.
Frear Hall, built in the early 1950s, has been demolished. The new dorm will feature a variety of living accommodations, from apartments to traditional dorm-style living, Hernandez said.
"The students had many opportunities to talk about the project," from the size, location, configuration of the rooms, down "to the color of the carpets," he said.
The dorm is expected to open in 2008 and compares favorably with similar projects as far as cost, regent Andres Albano Jr. said.
While the cost is "much more than originally expected," the $353 per square foot is typical, considering the skyrocketing building costs.