College eyes new construction

Students pack a classroom in Houston Hall at Mesa State College. The college’s board of trustees has approved a plan to renovate the building.

A new residence hall could open on the Mesa State College campus in time for fall 2011.

The college’s board of trustees discussed the possibility last week during a meeting in Denver. Although no contracts or timelines were set, the board agreed there’s a need to build additional student housing as soon as possible on the campus.

The residence hall would be built behind the south end of Grand Mesa Residence Hall and in front of the north end of the student apartment building along Cannell Avenue that’s part of the new North Avenue residence hall. Construction would cost an estimated $15 million, college spokeswoman Dana Nunn said. Above- or below-ground and street-level parking may be added around the building site.

Trustees also approved a plan to renovate Houston Hall, which primarily hosts business, general-education and lower-division classes, plus some faculty offices. As with the residence hall, the plan approval means trustees believe there’s a need to complete the project, but it will need additional votes to approve construction contracts and a design. The project is projected to cost $15 million, and the college would like to have it finished by fall 2011, Nunn said.

Houston Hall is the oldest building on campus and will turn 70 this year. The plan for Houston Hall is to restore its exterior to resemble what it looked like when it was new in 1940. The interior, however, will be renovated to look more modern.

“We may have to look at doing it in phases, because it’s tough to give up classroom space, especially when you’re growing like we are,” Nunn said.

Mesa State’s student population surpassed 7,000 this year, up from about 6,200 students in fall 2008.

Most students are required to live on the Mesa State campus for their freshman and sophomore years.

A funding source for either project has not been selected, but Nunn said it’s likely both will be funded with bonds.

Residence hall bonds can be paid off with student rent for the hall’s rooms, a funding plan most recently put in place for the North Avenue residence hall.


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