Garage plan gets mixed reviews from regents committee

Full board will consider capital construction proposals at June 26-27 meeting
CU-Boulder underground parking garage plan

Construction on the CU-Boulder athletics facility expansion is underway. A proposed parking garage would be built beneath the northeast end of the project.

A proposed underground parking garage near CU-Boulder’s Folsom Field met with mixed reaction from members of the Board of Regents Capital Construction Subcommittee during its June 5 meeting at 1800 Grant St.

Still, the $24.8 million project was advanced by the committee to the full board, along with all other capital projects proposed by all the campuses in their two-year and five-year plans. Regents will consider the proposals at the board’s June 26-27 meeting at CU Denver on the Auraria Campus.

The garage would be built beneath the previously approved CU-Boulder Athletics indoor practice facility near Folsom Field. It is a separate project to be paid for by bonds that would be repaid by parking revenue. It would provide daily parking access to faculty, staff, students and visitors.

The project would replace the roughly 300 parking spots being lost due to construction in the area while also adding about 280 new spaces (about 580 parking spots total).

Bill Haverly, campus architect and director of planning, design and construction, who joined the campus in March, said the garage would help ease parking congestion on nearby Boulder streets, where roughly 2,100 cars park daily. He said planners discovered the opportunity for the garage when considering the athletics project and the campus master plan that called for eventual expansion of parking in the vicinity. Because the garage needs to begin construction before the practice facility, quick approval was required.

“This has been in the master plan for some time,” said Steve Thweatt, assistant vice chancellor for facilities management. “We failed to think about doing (the parking) project in parallel with (the athletics project), but once we saw the need for excavation, it became apparent the time to do it was now.”

Regent Glen Gallegos, participating in the meeting via phone, said he is concerned about construction on the garage delaying the athletics project; Haverly acknowledged a possible delay of up to four months. Gallegos said he also finds it “interesting” that funding from athletics will not be used for the garage, even though it will provide a benefit to the department, specifically on football game days.

“It’s all too convenient for me,” Gallegos said. “I guess I need to think about this one a little bit longer.” Gallegos asked for a cost comparison of building the garage as proposed or building it elsewhere as a separate project not in conjunction with other construction. The figures are expected to be presented at this month’s Board of Regents meeting.

Regent Sue Sharkey, chair of the committee, said she also is concerned that the project “was an unexpected opportunity rather than a planned opportunity.”

“But I am not against this project,” she said. “I find parking is always really a problem on campus. It’s an aggravation, it’s frustrating. … If we don’t do this at this time, there will come a point in the future where people will say, ‘What were they thinking and why didn’t they take advantage of that opportunity?’”

Also presented by CU-Boulder at the June 5 meeting were plans for a new dining and community commons center at Williams Village, which would replace the 48-year-old Darley Dining Hall, where the state of disrepair has led many of the 2,879 nearby students to go elsewhere for meals.

“It’s disgusting,” Sharkey said of the facility, which she recently visited as part of a campus tour. “I was appalled at what I saw. I wouldn’t eat a meal out of that building … and our students aren’t. This is a long-overdue project.”

Steve McNally, senior associate vice chancellor for budget, finance and enrollment services, said the success of the Center For Community’s dining facility has helped create the opportunity for a reinvention of the Darley Dining Hall in a more elegant form that would lure students back, and even provide an attractive dining option for students in the nearby Bear Creek Apartments.

The project also would create space for gathering and studying, conference services, IT support and some retail.

Other CU-Boulder projects presented:

Ketchum Arts and Sciences: The $22.5 million renewal and renovation project would make better use of existing space and enhance the use of technology in classrooms, as well as support flipped classrooms – enabling less emphasis on lecturing and more on interaction and discussion. Design is set to begin this fall, with construction following in the winter and occupancy in January 2016.

Systems Biotechnology Academic Wing: The $28.2 million project would add a wing to the Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building, addressing space needs for 4,000 students. Occupancy is scheduled for August 2017.

Aerospace Engineering Sciences Building amendment: Aerospace would move out of the Engineering Building and into a new facility, originally planned for the central campus but now set to be built on the East Campus. Design of the $74.9 million project would begin a year from now, with construction beginning August 2016 and occupancy in spring 2018.

From UCCS, Gary Reynolds, executive director of facilities services, presented an update to the Visual and Performing Arts building plan, which adds offices, a conference room, and expanded catering area, coffee shop, social space for students and an information/service counter. The changes would add $4 million to the $59.9 million project.

Other UCCS projects presented:

North Nevada infrastructure phase one: Partial development of the North Campus area would enable further facility construction. The project includes utility mains, roads, parking, sidewalks, lighting and landscaping.

South Hall: The $33.8 million project has a new estimated cost adjusted for inflation.

Engineering and Applied Science renovation: The first phase would upgrade classroom and research facilities for $6.6 million.

Fire access easement: Project meets a city requirement on formerly residential land at the east end of the campus.

From CU Denver l Anschutz Medical Campus, Michael Del Giudice, director of the Office of Institutional Planning, presented top capital construction priorities for the two campuses. The top priority at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus is a $48.7 million interdisciplinary building and data center, which would provide dedicated space for the Center for Biomedical Informatics, among other uses. CU Denver’s top priority is a renovation of the 26-year-old North Classroom Building, which requires $31.8 million in improvements to the original mechanical systems, carpet, paint and more.

Other CU Denver l Anschutz Medical Campus projects presented:

Engineering and Physical Sciences Building: The $41.3 million project includes a new three-story building and renovation of classrooms, labs, offices and support spaces in the North Classroom Building.

Pre-Health Instructional Lab Wing: Expansion of biology and chemistry labs on the downtown Denver campus is estimated at $19.8 million.

CU Denver Building renovation: The 32-year-old building would benefit from a $42.3 million makeover to update original mechanical systems and expand space for the growing bachelor’s program in architecture. Jeff Parker, vice chancellor of administration and finance, said the effort has the potential to serve as a learning laboratory for architecture students.

Also planned for the coming years are the Colorado Translational Research Imaging Center ($34.4 million), the Rocky Mountain Lions Eye Institute Building expansion ($29.5 million), renovation of Research 1 and 2 Vivarium ($10.7 million), Vivarium expansion ($10.7 million), Central Utitility Plant boiler expansion ($8 million) and expansion of the Business School ($4.2 million).