New Alumni Center will be focal point of projected Alumni Square

Jackson French

The Augenstein Alumni Center, scheduled to open on April 12, will be the center of what is expected to become a much larger Alumni Square, which would connect WKU’s campus to downtown Bowling Green.

Kathryn Costello, vice president for Development and Alumni Relations, said Alumni Square, upon its completion, is expected to include a hotel, a restaurant and a café, as well as WKU Apartments and the Alumni Center.

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“The Alumni Center is, for right now, the main building,” Costello said. “It’s a place where alumni will come and have a place to anchor themselves when they’re here.”

She also said that, besides serving as a space for conferences and alumni gatherings, the Alumni Center will operate as the place where campus tours begin.

Kerra Ogden, project manager of capital construction, said the interior of the Alumni Center will include offices, a library, a dining room and an auditorium.

Costello said the Alumni Center is a privately-supported facility, paid for with donations, mainly from former students. She said the facility is named after WKU graduate Dale Augenstein, who provided the lead gift, a donation of over $1,000,000 for the building.

She said the restaurant, the hotel and the café in Alumni Square are “planned and expected,” but the deals to construct them have not yet been finalized. She said the businesses will be attached to the parking garage that is currently a part of WKU Apartments.

“Having those kinds of things close by would make it a nicer neighborhood,” Costello said.

Ogden said a police station in the parking garage is also planned.

Costello said WKU has been working with the Downtown Redevelopment Authority to build Alumni Square.

“What we’ve been doing there is a collaboration between the university and the city of Bowling Green, in which we’ve each taken a role to develop special areas,” Costello said. “It’s part of a whole community development program.”

For WKU, the project will see the completion of Alumni Square while for Bowling Green, it will make the downtown area more appealing for business and residential interests, Costello said.

She also said the Downtown Redevelopment Authority has created a special entity, or subgroup, known as SPE2 to handle the redevelopment of the downtown area.

Ann Mead, vice president for finance and administration at WKU, serves as a member of SPE2 and said WKU’s collaboration with Warren County should be financially beneficial for the school.

She said downtown Bowling Green is a Tax Incremental Financing district that provides monetary returns on construction projects.

“Once we reach $150 million in construction funds, then there is a tax revenue distribution that comes back to the benefit of those that have constructed within the TIF district,” Mead said. “SPE2 is building the building and leasing it to us. SPE2 will have a very minimal role once the construction is done.”