University of Washington to spend $1B on construction
- The University of Washington has approximately $1 billion of new buildings either under construction or in planning stages at its Seattle campus, according to The Seattle Times. Most recently, it broke ground on its Population Health Initiative building, which was funded largely by a $210 million donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Other campus projects include a $171 million Life Sciences building, which includes a 20,000-square-foot greenhouse; the $105 million Bill & Melinda Gates Center for Computer Science, which will open this December; the $79 million New Burke museum, which will provide a larger, temperature-controlled space for delicate collections; a $70 million space to expand the university's business school and almost $400 million in new residence halls.
- UW is also building a $145 million high-rise at its South Lake Union campus that will house research labs and offices in addition to a retina clinic, diabetes institute and neighborhood clinic and urgent care facility.
In 2016, consultant group Sightlines used UW's $1 billion repair and maintenance backlog as an example of how U.S. universities and colleges were struggling to come up with the cash necessary – an estimated $30 billion – to keep aging structures built in the 1960s and 1970s in good working order. According to the study, UW spent $15.7 million on upkeep in 2015, which included only .20 cents per square foot of preventive maintenance, or less than half of the recommended .45 cents per square foot.
Instead of relying on the benevolence of state lawmakers or on alumni and other donations, universities are exploring other options to fund much-needed repairs or replacements. In Ohio, Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio, tackled about $200 million of deferred maintenance costs by issuing bonds, according to Crain's Cleveland Business. YSU has also liquidated about $8 million in investment earnings to go toward future capital projects and has entered into a public-private partnership (P3) for dormitories and a health facility.
Kent State University announced in March that it would begin a 10-year, $1 billion-plus program of construction renovations at its campus in Kent, Ohio. Like YSU, Kent State officials are using a variety of financial mechanisms to pay for the work, including a P3 to build a $21 million mixed-use development that will connect the campus to downtown and possibly the university's new $73 million business administration building.
- The Seattle Times UW has $1 billion in buildings going up or planned in Seattle
Follow Kim Slowey on Twitter