UND construction projects near completion, while others are waiting in the wings – Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Another major construction project at UND is winding down, but the campus landscape will continue to change as other projects get underway.

The new Nistler College of Business and Public Administration is nearing completion, and is on pace to open in the fall. When UND students, staff and faculty occupy the building, it will create a domino effect of other activity, as projects such as a coming remodel of Merrifield and Twamley halls begin to take shape.

Mike Pieper, associate vice president of facilities, said crews are putting the finishing touches on the inside of the Nistler building, though site work remains at the building’s location. Weather conditions will need to improve before the landscaping work can be done.

Pieper said work on the $70 million building continued throughout the pandemic.

“We got approval and funding at really the right time,” said Pieper. “It allowed us to start construction at the optimal time.”

Faculty will begin relocating to the Nistler building from Gamble Hall this summer. Once Gamble has been cleared out it will be deep-cleaned, and UND administrators are looking at having people from Merrifield move in over the winter break this year. The idea is to use Gamble as a “swing space” — a spot to temporarily house academic programs while remodeling is being undertaken. Further down the line when Merrifield is completed, staff in Twamley will move to occupy Gamble.

In November 2021,

Gov. Doug Burgum approved $62 million to be used for construction and research projects at UND.

The remodels of Merrifield and Twamley are expected to cost about $79 million and state funding for the project was capped at $50 million. According to Milo Smith, with the UND Alumni Association & Foundation, at least $25 million needs to be raised privately, though Foundation staff are hoping for more than that amount so the project can be completed at the highest quality.

Other large projects in the works include the new

Memorial Village,

and an addition to the west side of the Fritz Pollard Athletic Center, which Pieper said could begin soon. The former is set to be a five-level structure at the site of the Memorial Stadium that housed UND football. The top four floors will be private apartments, and the first floor will be leased by UND from the UND Foundation for athletic offices.

A planned addition to the Pollard Center would finish off the building by adding a weight room and locker rooms, as well as other auxiliary spaces — amenities which were not included in the original design due to funding constraints. The overall design, Pieper said, is to create a “wet space” in the Pollard Center, with the “dry space” being in the Memorial Village building.

“We think both those projects could get started this summer,” Pieper said.

At the Foundation, Smith said fundraising efforts have brought in $12 million for the Pollard Center addition, and that Foundation staff hope to complete additional efforts by the summer. The Foundation is not fundraising for the Memorial Village project, as that is being developed privately, in conjunction with UND.

While administrators work on plans for the sports facilities, construction continues on the Brannon, West and McVey residence halls on the west side of the English Coulee. Pieper said that despite a bit of a late start, the projects are on track for two of the buildings to be open later this year.

“Our plan was this coming fall we wanted to get into Brannon and McVey, and then the following fall get into the new West,” Pieper said.

Brannon got an extensive remodel and will open for students on the first day of the fall semester. After having been torn down, West and McVey are being rebuilt. McVey, Pieper said, is ahead of schedule and should be completed by September, with a move-in date for students around the Thanksgiving holiday. The new West hall is expected to wrap up in March 2023, meaning it should be done in plenty of time for a fall move-in date that year.

Construction on the new residence halls is meant to right-size bed space on campus by reducing 1-million square feet of housing space. Administrators have said that doing so will

eliminate about $200 million in deferred maintenance costs.

With residence units clustered around the Wilkerson dining complex, demolition work on residence halls east of the coulee can begin, likely starting with buildings near Squires Hall, though Pieper said he couldn’t yet say which would be the first building to fall. Demolition work could be completed by December 2023, he said.

Taking down buildings around Squires will leave an empty space on the campus. Low-density apartment buildings on the west side of campus are also slated to be torn down, and will leave additional empty spaces. Pieper said those plots could be leased to developers to put up private, market-rate apartments.

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