Project targeted for 2019-’21 budget

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee plans to seek approval for a $129 million project upgrading its student union, a somewhat scaled back version of previous plans for the building.

UWM officials say the student union at least needs $35 million in capital maintenance in the next 10 years.

The new plan calls for renovations to around 64 percent of the building and the demolition and new construction of the remaining 36 percent. The project would also slightly reduce the size of the 328,000-square-foot building.

UWM’s student union dates back to 1956 and was built out over a period of roughly 30 years. The university has worked with consultants three times – in 2008, 2012 and 2014 – on potential solutions for a building given a “D” rating for function and “F” for condition, according to Robin Van Harpen, UWM vice chancellor for finance and administrative affairs.

“We believe there is no cheaper solution we can propose,” Van Harpen told the UW System Board of Regents capital planning and budget committee, adding “our staff bends over backwards” to keep the building functioning and the poor condition isn’t from a lack of maintenance.

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