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Upgrades approved for two UW-Whitewater dormitories

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Kevin Murphy/Special to The Gazette
October 16, 2013

MADISON--The state building commission Wednesday approved $17.3 million in renovations to two 1960s dormitories at UW-Whitewater, the first of six west campus dorms scheduled for modernizing.

The commission added $5.4 million to previously allocated funding that will modernize and connect Arey and Fricker halls.

A 19,000-square-foot connector will add 25 beds to Fricker and 15 beds to Arey by creating space for study and recreation lounges currently located in both halls and consolidating building mechanical systems.

The revenue generated by the additional beds will offset the $5.4 million added to the project, according to UW System officials.

Funding comes solely from student dorm fees.

Initially, two other west campus dorms, Bigelow and Benson halls, were selected for renovation and were included in the 2011-13 capital budget at $12.3 million. Since then, an architect was hired, a campus master plan and inspection of all dorms was completed, pushing Arey and Fricker to the top of the list, Vice Chancellor Jeff Arnold said.

The project also replaces windows, doors and roofs and adds accessibility and air conditioning in common areas. The dorms have not had any major renovations since constructed 50 years ago.

The residence halls are being made more attractive to today's college students, said Terry Tumbarello, associate director of residence life.

“With these improvements, there will be a centralized, modernized front desk … upgraded wireless (Internet) access points even outside the building … We're upgrading and adding to our common areas so they will be nicer. We're upgrading our computer labs. The whole building is getting a facelift with this project.

The additional $5.4 million approved Wednesday was needed to fund construction of the building connector, add an elevator to Fricker, surveillance cameras in common areas, a fire pump, a backup generator and a larger water line to be buried along Koshkonong Drive. The water line will allow fire sprinkler systems to be added to the other west side dorms.

Fricker Hall will be closed in May for renovations which should be completed in May or June 2015, said Mary Kaster, UW-Whitewater's project manager.

Renovations to Arey should begin in June 2015 and be completed within a year, she said.

The projects will make student housing even more so crowded, Kaster said.

When the 243-bed Fricker Hall is closed, lounges in other dorms and off-campus housing leased by the university will be used, she said.

The same would occur in 2015 when the 245-bed Arey Hall is renovated, she said.

Bieglow and Benson halls could be the next dorms renovated in coming years, although no final decision has yet been made, Arnold said.



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