Bond sales to fund construction of new housing, renovations

When construction completes on the housing VIII project in 2012 in the northwest sector of the Fairfax campus, GMU will have added 600 beds for students. (Daniel McEnrue) 

With the growth George Mason University has experienced in recent years, the demand for residential space on campus has exceeded what is available. To help fix this, the Board of Visitors decided in their September meeting to sell up to $47,367,000 in 9c General Obligation Bonds to fund the construction of new housing facilities.

“The demand for more beds is there,” said George Mason Press Secretary Daniel Walsch. He said there’s a plan to add over 1,200 new beds in the next three to five years.

The Board of Visitors also approved the sale of $23,656,855 in bonds to fund the renovation of several university buildings as well as the construction of a dining facility in Front Royal, an addition to the Krasnow Institute and a building at the Arlington campus, according to a document from the Board of Visitors website.

Bond sales are a common way to raise revenue for construction of new university facilities in Virginia. The Board of Visitors must approve the bond sales, which are then sold by the state of Virginia. The debt created by these bonds is repaid over time with revenue raised from numerous outlets, including rental of the constructed facilities, rental of retail space and other operating revenues, according to the document.

The beds will be mostly contained in one facility called Student Housing VIII. The project calls for 1,200 beds, though the expected completion date for the other 600 beds remains unknown, according to the document.
“A total of 600 beds will be constructed by the Fall 2012, and will be located in the northwest sector of campus,” according to the document.

The bond sales will also finance the construction of student housing in Front Royal. The housing will support the Smithsonian Mason Conversation Studies Program and will consist of 124 student rooms, one staff apartment and common space, according to the document. There will also be a dining facility capable of serving 100 people that will be completed by July 2012.

Construction of the Front Royal housing is projected to be completed by July 2012 with students able to move in August 2012, according to the document.

The bond sales will also fund renovations to several Mason housing facilities and other buildings around campus.
“As time passes, everything needs to be upgraded and fine-tuned, so it’s an ongoing project,” Walsch said.

The University Commons, constructed in 1986, will receive a fire suppression system, upgrades to the fire alarms, upgraded electrical and mechanical systems and restroom renovations, according to the document.

The renovations to the University Commons are projected to be completed by January 2013, according to the document.
The bonds will help fund the continued renovation of Presidents Park, completing work on the six facilities that have not yet been renovated.

These renovations, which are projected to be completed by next fall, consist of the installation of sprinklers, a new fire alarm system, electrical upgrades and mechanical improvements, according to the document.

The bond sales, along with general funding and funding from Arlington County, will finance the second phase of the Arlington campus, which calls for three floors of underground parking for approximately 400 vehicles. The School of Law and the School of Public Policy will be the major departments in the new facility. There will also be a library, a 300-seat auditorium and a TV studio, according to the document. Construction is projected to be completed this fall.

The bond sales will finance the second addition to the Krasnow Institute. There will be a three-story addition to the institute that is similar to the first addition which was completed in 2007.

The first floor will contain a Vivarium, while the second and third floors will consist of biological sciences wet research labs and support space, according to the document.

Bond sales will finance the renovation of Student Union Building I. Previous bond sales funded the addition to the building, which was completed in this summer. The renovations are projected to be completed by this spring, according to the document.

Some of the bonds approved to be sold will provide the final money necessary to finish the renovations to Student Union Building II, according to the document. The SUB II renovations include demolishing the kitchen and serving area.

The bond sales will finance heating, ventilation and air conditioning improvements to the Fairfax Aquatic Center, as the facility has experienced HVAC problems in prior years.

The repairs will replace the Dectron pool units in both the competition and recreational pools with new units and correct the supply air diffusers in the spectator area of the competition room amongst other improvements, according to the document. Work is expected to be completed by next summer.

Field House will receive life/safety/code improvements financed by the bond sales. Work is expected to be completed by 2013 and will include improving access to the facility for the disabled, HVAC work and work on the fire and electrical system, according to the document.

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