University of Arkansas eyes three major projects

Tue January 11, 2005 - National Edition

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) The University of Arkansas should issue bonds to help fund $40 million in construction and renovation projects on the Fayetteville campus, vice chancellor for finance and administration Don Pederson said.

The university wants to renovate its Chemistry Building and start construction on two new buildings, creating a need for $40 million in capital for the Fayetteville campus.

Chemistry classes are taught in a 69-year-old building, and the other construction would be for computer classrooms and a building for the university’s graduate business school.

Pederson said the campus will propose a financial package to UA System trustees on Jan. 27 that will blend private donations and proposed bond issues for the projects.

"We’re still putting the funding pieces together," he said. "It’s fairly complex. We’re 98 percent toward a solution. Until I’ve got the money in the bank, it’s not 100 percent."

The building for the computer classrooms is to cost $30 million, and already the Terrace Manor Apartments at Buchanan Avenue and Dickson Street have been torn down to make way for the new structure.

The Willard J. Walker Graduate Business Building will cost $20 million. Between the buildings will be a new parking deck with 2,200 spaces, the first 500 of which are to open this month.

Pederson said donations and bond issues have filled the gap left by decreased state money for improvements.

"The amount of money in that fund has been quite limited in the past few years."

The university got $4.8 million from the General Improvement Fund in the last three legislative sessions, in all.

The total cost for the projects is $67 million. The university drew $15.25 million with a 2002 bond issue for the five-story Center for Academic Excellence, which will house the computer classes. The university planned to pay for the other half of the centers cost through a major gift, but that money did not come through, Pederson said.

The university plans to sell bonds to pay for the remaining $13 million needed for the chemistry facility renovation. Another $2 million came from earlier financing.

Walker Hall was initially projected to cost $16 million. Funded in part by an $8 million gift from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation, the five-story building will house the Sam M. Walton College Graduate School of Business, three research centers and conference facilities.

The university needs another $12 million to complete the financing package.