Facilities, property topics of interest at Board of Regents quarterly meeting

An illustration of the new Honors College and International Center building that will be completed in 2015. 

Jonah Phillips

A motion was approved at the third quarterly WKU Board of Regents meeting on Friday, July 23 to sell a portion of the land that making up the housing and commuter parking lot between Kentucky Street and Adams street on the west side of WKU’s campus.

WKU has entered into a sales contract with Five Star Properties, LLC to develop a drug store in the portion of Adams lot that is closest to where Kentucky Street and Adams street fork. The deal is worth roughly $600,000 for just over half an acre of land with an additional lease on a minimal amount of surrounding land set for $250,000 after 25 years of use.  The loss in land will amount to the loss of roughly 50 parking spaces.

Five Star is also in a sales contract with the owners of the property on the far edge of the lot, positioned directly at the fork of Kentucky and Adams for an undisclosed fee.

Student regent Nicki Taylor said the university needs to make it clear to students that this isn’t simply the loss of more on-campus parking.

“I, because I am on this board, understand that these spaces will be added back with the additions to the Russelville Road lot, but to most students it is going to look like more parking is being taken away,” Taylor said during the meeting. “The faculty is going to really have to communicate to the students that more parking is being made available.”

The topic remained on facilities as chief of facilities Bryan Russell gave a presentation on several projects the University is currently engaged in.  He began by noting that the repaving of Normal Street is set for completion no later than Friday, July 21st, but focused on two major projects WKU will be completing soon.

The new Honors College and International Center is set for completion this fall.  Russell said the building will be completely operational by the beginning of the fall semester, with minor work to be completed for the buildings unveiling on September 25.

“When we get down to the last 30 days there is a tremendous amount of work that gets done inside the building.  When we say a building will be operational we mean that they will be able to use the classroom spaces—but parts of the building are lagging behind,” Russell said. “A lot of it was this past winter weather, and the unusual rain we have had.  We are struggling a little bit with the outside of the building.”

President Gary Ransdell noted that the overtime the crews are working to get the project finished is coming out of the contractor’s pocket—not the universities due to contractual agreements.

Another project Ransdell is excited to complete is the renovations to the Thompson Complex.

In 1997 Ransdell  spent time analyzing each college’s facilities within the university and said it was clear then that the science facilities needed the most attention.  Four major projects and 18 years later, Ransdell said he is excited to finally be completing renovations. 

“We have had four major projects to renovate Thompson Complex, and in 1997 I did a listening tour and met with every college to find out our greatest needs, challenges, and opportunities,” Ransdell said. “We dedicated ourselves then to completely rebuild and replace our science facilities. We are now in the final phase of that.”

Ransdell estimates a total of $140 million over the past 18 years to complete renovations.