FSU hopes to begin new dorm construction in the spring

Framingham State is awaiting approval for $44 million in financing in order to build a new dorm which will be located in the Maynard Street parking lot.

Executive Vice President Dale Hamel said the declaration of intent, which he said is “essentially the approval for financing the project,” was accepted at the Board of Trustees meeting on Sept. 30.

The new residence hall will provide 316 beds. When it opens, O’Connor Hall, which houses 241 students, will become an academic building. “It represents a four percent increase in capacity,” Hamel said. The capacity increase includes what will be lost from O’Connor.

Referring to the $44 million in financing the school is requesting, Hamel said, “That includes about $37 million in construction costs. That’s the one you often focus on.”

The construction estimate for the new dorm recently came in at $36.4 million. “The assumption was a $37 million construction budget with a $44 million budget in total,” he said.

The Vice President said that in addition to the construction costs, there are management fees for the building authority, contingency and what’s called FFE, which Hamel said stands for furniture, fixtures and equipment. “It’s basically things beyond the construction.”

The FSU Board of Trustees voted on the $44 million request at the end of September. The Massachusetts State College Building Authority will vote in October, and the Board of Higher Education in November.

After approval by these boards, Hamel said he hopes for bonds to be issued in December. These bonds will be issued by The Massachusetts State College Building Authority. “The debt service is fully funded from our residence hall systems,” he said, referring to the room fees paid by students.

Hamel said the new dorm will be “nice” and will include a game room, student lounge and kitchenette.

The structure will be comparable to North Hall. “It has a similar portal to North,” Hamel said. “From the back of Maynard Road parking, you’ll enter a portal and come up near the Ecumenical Center.”

After the new dorm is completed, O’Connor Hall will be converted into academic space. “We have started to develop layouts for where the different offices will be,” Hamel said. The offices will include education, psychology, modern languages and sociology departments.

There will also be some administrative spaces moved into O’Connor such as the offices for grants and contracts, first-year programs and institutional research, according to Hamel.

Michelle Rao, a sophomore business major, said she doesn’t like the location of the new residence hall, but is looking forward to seeing it completed. “The location is a little weird. It’s not really near any of the other dorms,” she said. “I think it will look nice once it’s done.”

Chris Power, a junior biology major, agreed with Rao.  “It will look out of place being in the Maynard Road lot.”

Justin Moylan, a sophomore biology major, said, “I think it will add to the campus. It’s a good spot for the building. There’s a lot of space to build.”

Jessica Elms, a junior business major, said, “It will look nice to have some new buildings on campus. With North, the new science building and now this new dorm, it will make the campus look more appealing.”

Caitlyn Kelleher, a senior English major, said, “I hope the construction doesn’t interfere with getting around campus and being in class like [the construction at] Hemenway does.”

Danielle White, a junior business major, said, “The location doesn’t make sense at all. It’s in an awkward spot and the students living there won’t get a great view of the campus.”

Peter Holland, a sophomore biology major, agreed with White. “The new dorm is in a spot that’s not convenient to the school. And with the hill they’re going to have to walk up every day, it’s going to be more of a hassle than a solution.”

Construction is set to begin in the spring of 2015, and Hamel expects the residence hall to be completed and opened by the start of the fall 2016 semester.

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