By Sean Tubbs

Collectbritain

Monday, November 23, 2009

Construction activity at the

University of Virginia

will remain at an increased level over the next two years before dropping off, according to Chief Operating Officer

Leonard Sandridge

. He detailed how UVA is spending $265 million in 2007 dollars from its capital budget in construction projects this year.

“We have got as much construction as we’ve ever had going on,” Sandridge said. “We are predicting we will spend more on new construction next year.”


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Leonard Sandridge

Sandridge briefed Charlottesville and Albemarle leaders at a meeting last Thursday of the

Planning and Coordination Council

, a joint group which discusses community infrastructure and growth.

Next year, UVA will spend $308 million as a slew of projects approach completion.

Sandridge said construction activity will then slow down because a number of large capital projects will have been completed. He forecasts only $224 million in capital spending in FY2012.

One obstacle is the dwindling amount of state funds for higher education. Sandridge pointed out that no state funds have gone to a 72-bed expansion of the University Medical Center, a new $37.4 million education building (Bavarro Hall), or four new dormitories being built on Alderman Road at a cost of $90.5 million.

Research needs are driving at least some of the construction. Both a new $68.8 million engineering building (Rice Hall) and a new $86.6 million arts and science building (so far unnamed) is part of the University’s push to add 200,000 square feet of research space. Sandridge said every effort is being made to maximize space available on Grounds.

Another privately funded project is a $3.6 million expansion of the Davenport Field baseball stadium. Sandridge said the sport has become incredibly popular, and is bringing people to UVA who would not have ordinarily come into contact with the school.

In the coming weeks, ground will be broken on a new $12.7 million rehearsal space on Culbreth Road for the UVA Marching Band and other musical activities. This project is being paid for by a gift from philanthropist Hunter Smith.





Aerial view of the South Lawn Project. Jefferson Park Avenue runs through the middle of the picture. (Source: UVA)


Sandridge said one difference between this period of growth and a similar period in the early 1970’s is the higher aesthetic expectations today.

“There was a willingness to accept a quality of construction and appearance that we do not have the appetite for today,” Sandridge said.

University-related construction is not restricted to Central Grounds and the Medical Center. The

University of Virginia Foundation

, which purchases and manages off-grounds properties on behalf of the school, is also in the midst of expansion at its research parks.

Tim Rose, foundation director, said the

Fontaine Research Park

is now fully built out and awaiting rezoning by the

Albemarle County Board of Supervisors

before expansion can begin. That action is expected in the next year. A second application to expand the

North Fork Research

park by 30 acres will also come before the Board of Supervisors.

Earlier in the PACC meeting, Albemarle County officials briefed members on the impact the expanding

Rivanna Station

will have on the community. In all, five DIA functions are being relocated from Bolling Air Force Base to Albemarle County, according to Community Relations Manager Lee Catlin. In all, the DIA has identified 828 positions that will be moving here.

“These are very sophisticated high-technology jobs that are going to be coming down to the community,” Catlin said.

Pace Lochte, UVA’s director of economic development, said that a “miniature intelligence community” is developing around NGIC and the North Fork Research Park. She said NGIC and other intelligence agencies are interested in using UVA as a resource.

“The sky’s the limit in terms of what the community and the DIA can do together,” Lochte said.

“This is the kind of development and economic improvement that every community in this country would just die to have it come into their community,” Sandridge added.


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