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More Union funding OKed

Regents back economic plan, delay vote on ASU acquiring Alpha Drive fraternity houses

 by Daniel Newhauser
 published on Friday, April 25, 2008


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TUCSON — The Arizona Board of Regents unanimously supported the Arizona Stimulus Plan for Economic and Education Development — a $1.4 billion proposal for University construction — at a meeting held at UA on Thursday.

Regents also approved an extra $13 million for Memorial Union fire renovations and discussed several ASU land deals. The deals dominated the Thursday meeting's discussions, but one proposal was met with objection.

The board's Capital Committee put forth a motion authorizing ASU to acquire eight fraternity-owned properties along Alpha Drive, possibly via eminent domain.

The motion did not pass, and instead, Regent Robert Bulla introduced a new motion mandating that ASU continue to work with the fraternities that reside along Alpha Drive until at least July 1.

Bulla, an ASU alumnus who said he was involved in the initial establishment of Alpha Drive when he was in a fraternity, said he was contacted by Greek representatives asking for an extension.

"We didn't think it was a last resort," Bulla said. "We wanted a little more time to discuss it."

ASU President Michael Crow agreed to comply with the extension but said he hopes to reach a deal to acquire the land and construct new facilities by July.

"They're not good facilities," he said of the structures on Alpha Drive. "We need new facilities."

The Board of Regents, the governing body for Arizona's public universities, also approved the lease of 9.5 acres, with option of sale, of ASU property on Rio Salado Parkway, east of Rural Road.

The only stipulations are that the land not be sold for less than $42 per square foot — even though a recent Kelly Appraisal valued the property at $39 per square foot — and that the money be used to offset tuition costs, said Regent Ernest Calderón.

Calderón said he is trying to make sure ASU finds alternate revenue sources besides tuition.

Crow agreed and said the money would be saved for use at a later date.

Earlier in the day, the regents voted in favor of the state stimulus plan to allot universities $1.4 billion in borrowed money over the next 25 years to renovate and maintain buildings at UA, ASU and NAU. The plan was originally put forth by the three universities' presidents.

"I don't think anybody believes we are not going to repair our buildings at some point," Regent Fred DuVal said. "This is a strategically opportune time."

According to provided documents, the plan would create more than 30,000 new jobs, which ASU economics professor Dennis Hoffman said are much needed in the construction sector.

"Rumor is, there's not that many new [commercial construction] projects on the books," he said.

The regents also approved a $13 million increase to the budget for renovations to the Memorial Union, which now total $53 million.

The bulk of the money, $9 million, will be used to widen stairwells and make the original structure fire protected.

The rest will be used to installing new sprinkler systems and update the old ones.

Reach the reporter at: daniel.newhauser@asu.edu.



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