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Bemidji State: Large construction/renovation project will improve campus, student services

BEMIDJI — A multimillion-dollar project is planned at Bemidji State University in summer 2014 to better align the campus.

The project, which could approach $12 million, would relocate the College of Business and student services.

The business college, now in Decker Hall on the residential side of campus, is slated to relocate into an expanded and renovated Memorial Hall.

Student services would then move from Sanford Hall — set to be demolished — into a remodeled Decker Hall.

"We’re excited to be moving forward on these things," said Scott Faust, director of communication and marketing for the university. "It’s going to make our campus more efficient, better serve our students and continue to modernize it."

‘Greater visibility’

The work — slated to begin in July 2014 — will include the elimination of the gymnasium space inside Memorial Hall.

Faust said the gym will be converted in two stories full of classroom and instructional space.

A Memorial Hall addition is planned to accommodate the relocated College of Business.

"We also think this will give our business program greater visibility because it will be right there on Birchmont (Drive)," Faust said.

Since Decker Hall is located near the residential halls, Faust said it makes sense to relocate student services there.

"It brings together student life and student-support services in a location that makes sense for students," he said.

Outdated building

Faust said the project will eliminate $3.5 million in deferred maintenance needs.

Sanford Hall alone has $1.19 million estimated for deferred maintenance, he noted.

"We consider the student-support services currently housed in Sanford to be cramped, poorly organized, inefficient and outdated," Faust said, in answering why Sanford is set to be demolished. "The (usable space) is just a small part of the whole building. We’re cramming a lot of stuff into a small area."

Kraus-Anderson will serve as the construction manager, though the contract has yet to be finalized.

Faust said the company will serve as a "construction manager at risk," meaning that the university will pay a set price for the work.

That "lock-in" figure will be finalized in November, Faust said, noting that it could end up coming in under the projected $12 million.

"We’ll know ahead of the start what it’s going to cost, which avoids exposure to unexpected price increases," Faust said. "It gives us good price protection. It’s a win-win."

Bob Fitzgerald, director of operations at Kraus-Anderson’s Bemidji office, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Kraus-Anderson, in a Monday press release, said it has a long history with BSU, including a 22,000 square-foot addition and a 10,000-square-foot renovation to the Sattgast Hall of Science in 2009, a 12,250 square-foot classroom and lab addition to the Northwest Technical College Center for Allied Health and the 193,000 square-foot Sanford Center, which is owned by the city of Bemidji but serves as the home for BSU hockey.

The architect for the forthcoming BSU work is LHB Architects of Duluth, Kraus-Anderson reported in the release.

Faust said the project is contingent on the university securing bonding dollars from the Legislature through the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities’ project-ranking process.

He said MnSCU has already awarded BSU $1 million for design work so the university is optimistic.

"If you get the design money, that’s a pretty good sign you get the construction money," he said.