ISU Campus $55M Construction Projects Under Way

When Indiana State University students return to campus in August, they'll notice a few changes.

📅   Thu July 30, 2015 - Midwest Edition
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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) When Indiana State University students return to campus in August, they’ll notice a few changes.

For one, The Statesman Towers on the east side of campus are gone — demolished. They formerly housed the colleges of Business and Education, after originally having been built as residence halls.

A freshman residence hall, Mills Hall, has a whole new look after a major, 15-month renovation that includes —finally — air conditioning. And ISU’s former library building, Normal Hall, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has undergone a $16 million renovation and will house University College and the Center for Student Success.

About $55 million worth of construction has been under way, and several of the projects will be complete by the time students return, although some construction has been slowed by a wet, rainy summer. The $55 million figure represents “hard construction” costs, not necessarily total overall costs.

Others projects include the renovation of Blumberg Hall, which began in May and will be completed by July of 2016. It is the second of four Sycamore Towers residence halls on the west side of campus that will undergo major renovations; the first was Mills, the next will be Cromwell.

The $1.5 million renovation of Dede Plaza will be ongoing through October. ISU also is working on the Sycamore Bike Trail, which begins at Fourth and Tippecanoe streets and ends at First and Cherry streets. And for those concerned about parking, ISU will have a new parking lot at First and Chestnut streets — on the west side of Third Street —with about 200 added parking spaces.

And of course, the new downtown housing project at 500 Wabash Ave. — part of a public/private partnership with Thompson Thrift — has already garnered much attention. The 75-apartment, 260-bed housing development is already fully leased; Thompson Thrift built and financed the $22.7 million facility, and ISU will lease the top four floors of the five-story structure.

Several ISU-funded projects are using local contractors, which creates jobs and serves as a major boost to the local economy, said Bryan Duncan, ISU director of capital planning and improvements. Hannig Construction was awarded contracts for Mills and Blumberg halls and for Dede Plaza.

In a recent interview, Duncan described projects under way or nearing completion:

• Mills Hall, a 12-story residence hall, is nearing completion, and ISU has begun moving in furniture, Duncan said. Students return Aug. 14, a week earlier than usual. “That does impact our construction schedule,” he said. “We have a week less time.”

Mills was the first of the four Sycamore Towers to be completely gutted and renovated. Perhaps the biggest news for students is that Mills is now air-conditioned, which it wasn’t before. The overall project cost, including construction, was $20.7 million, funded through housing and dining reserve funds and the sale of bonds.

The first floor has been completely redone and has a more open look and more natural lighting; a mezzanine has a lounge area, laundry room and kitchen.

Student rooms have new finishes, and while two students share a room, restrooms will be semi-private.

On residential floors, lounges with large windows will flood natural light into interior spaces. A new glass facade on the building’s north side “has really improved the aesthetics of the outside of the building,” Duncan said. Before, corridors and the elevator lobby used to be “very, very dark.”

• Construction on Blumberg Hall, located just south of Mills, began in May and is similar to Mills in scope; it will be completed in July 2016.

• Normal Hall, a $16 million project funded by the state, is nearing completion, although rain has slowed sitework on a plaza that will be located east of the building. University College, which serves freshmen, and the Center for Student Success will move in the week of Aug. 3, Duncan said.

The limestone building, which has a neo-classical design, served as the ISU library from 1919 to 1973 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One of the building’s main features is an opalescent art-glass dome covering the grand rotunda, which pays tribute to 24 of the great philosophers and educators, including six from Indiana.

A new, three-story glass atrium addition houses an ADA-accessible entrance, an elevator, stairwells and the facility’s heating/cooling system.

• 500 Wabash Ave.: Thompson Thrift and ISU “are in the process of transferring occupancy” to ISU, which will begin moving in furniture within the next few weeks, Duncan said. “Our trades folks are receiving training on all equipment in the building,” he said. The $22.7 million retail/housing complex built, funded and owned by Thompson Thrift, is not included in the $55 million in construction projects ISU has under way. ISU will lease the space, which will be occupied by upperclass and graduate students.

• Statesman Towers are gone from the Terre Haute landscape, although work continues on what’s left of the west tower. A crane demolished everything above the third floor. “There is a fairly large basement. Once they remove all the debris sitting on top of the basement, they have to go in and demolish the basement,” Duncan said.

The demolition contract, which went to Renascent of Indianapolis, was $1.9 million, and the project is a week or two ahead of schedule. Total overall cost, including abatement and design work, was about $3 million.

A large pile of debris remains on site, and Renascent is separating out metals for recycling. Concrete will be crushed and used to fill in the large basement area. By late fall, October or November, the site will become greenspace with sidewalks.

• Work on Dede Plaza, which includes the popular fountain, is still under way and scheduled for completion in October. The plaza is 25 years old, and Duncan characterized the work as a “major facelift.” The project includes new pavers, concrete walkways, landscaping and an 18-in. (45.7 cm) seat wall that will be added around the fountain.

“The plaza will remain the heart of campus activity,’ Duncan said.

It’s a busy place on campus, and officials realize the continued construction when students return will be a “major disruption.” Duncan noted that the rain this summer has created “a huge challenge for the project, but we think we can get it back on schedule.”

The cost is $1.5 million, and the project is being funded through private gifts and interest income.

• Sycamore Bike Trail: ISU is nearly 90 percent complete with this project, which serves as an extension of the National Road Heritage Trail. It begins at Fourth and Tippecanoe streets, goes under U.S. 41 at the overpass, goes to the river campus behind ISU’s new track and field complex and ends up at First and Cherry streets.

The project was awarded to ST Construction of Terre Haute at a cost of $280,000, Duncan said.

• A new parking lot at First and Chestnut should be welcome news for those who struggle to find parking on the west side of campus, although it does involve a walk across busy Third Street. “We know the west side of campus needs more parking, so this will help that situation,” Duncan said. The lot will have about 200 spaces.

To help with safety, the Indiana Department of Transportation has added countdown timers and push buttons to traffic signals at Third and Chestnut streets.