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November 12, 2009

Trustees approve new dorms

Pitt trustees approved three capital projects totaling $15 million, including an expansion of undergraduate student housing in Oakland and Bradford and a new wellness center in Johnstown.

The trustees property and facilities committee, which is authorized to approve construction projects costing more than $1 million, took the action at its Oct. 30 meeting.

Ground was broken at Pitt-Johnstown this week for the new wellness and recreation center, which is expected to be completed by December 2010.

Ground was broken at Pitt-Johnstown this week for the new wellness and recreation center, which is expected to be completed by December 2010.

Pitt is purchasing a three-quarter-acre parcel of land at 315 Oakland Ave., contiguous to the Bouquet Gardens residences, at a cost of $1.4 million. The property has a 2.5-story, 5,000-square-foot building most recently used for UPMC Health Plan offices and an 80-space parking site for the former Children’s Hospital. A closing on the property is anticipated by the end of 2009, Pitt officials said.

“The University believes that the land is well suited for additional undergraduate student apartments. We are conducting zoning and design studies to advance the necessary planning for the project,” said Jerome Cochran, executive vice chancellor.

The project, which will parallel the design of the garden-style Bouquet Gardens apartments, will add 200 beds to the Pittsburgh campus total of 7,200. Bouquet Gardens currently houses 496 students.

Pitt also is considering a future residence hall expansion to add up to 700 additional beds on the lower campus at an as yet undetermined location, Cochran said following the committee meeting.

That project is not expected to commence for at least two years, he added.

“In order to keep our commitment to provide a three-year guarantee of housing, we’re going to have to build another larger residence hall,” he said. “There has always been a desire — although I don’t know that we’ll get there — to offer a four-year guarantee [for on-campus housing],” he said. “We also have a lot of transfer students who start in the [spring term], and we have no place to put them.”

The trustees also approved construction of a new $5.4 million residence hall on the Bradford campus and a new $9.7 million fitness center on the Johnstown campus.

Pitt-Bradford’s three-story residence hall, with 30,300 gross square feet, will cost $5.4 million and house 103 students. The project is expected to be completed by August 2010.

“Because the Bradford campus has met its long-term enrollment goal of 1,500 full-time equivalent students and because changing student demographics have increased the number of traditional-age students from beyond commuting distance, Pitt-Bradford has an increased demand for on-campus residence facilities,” Cochran said.

UPB has been housing some 50 overflow students in an off-campus hotel for the past three years at an annual cost of $275,000, he noted.

On the Pitt-Johnstown campus, ground was broken Nov. 10 for the new wellness and recreation center, which was announced in 2007 as part of Pitt’s 12-year facilities plan.

The facility will be a 38,000-gross-square-foot multipurpose center and will include a gymnasium, an elevated three-lane running track, a fitness center with weight and cardiovascular exercise equipment, a climbing wall and two combination classroom/exercise rooms, as well as office space. The project is expected to be completed by December 2010.

The three construction projects together are expected to generate 80 on-site jobs and 32 support jobs, officials said.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 42 Issue 6

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