A Kentucky State University building that was once on the path to demolition is getting a second life.
At a Monday board meeting, Kentucky State University regents approved renovation of The Halls dormitory. Last year, KSU officials said the building would be closed because renovation costs would be far more than the cost of demolition. However, a fresh look at the dormitory has proved otherwise.
The previous estimate — $18 million — was to gut and restore the building. However, after taking a closer look at the building, officials released a new estimate — $900,000, just 5 percent of the original estimate.
“The plan was to basically tear the whole inside out, make it a shell, reconstruct inside, then remodel. Once we went in, we realized it does not need to be gutted,” KSU President Dr. M. Christoper Brown said.
Instead of gutting the building, only a few changes were needed, such as updating the bathrooms, hiding ductwork, replacing solo units and sanitizing the building.
“What happened was, under the 2006/2008 master plan, all of the campus construction requests were for campus beautification, which assumes that there is not historic value to the antiquity of the place,” Brown said. “We don’t need new, shiny building. We need clean, functioning building.”
Brown said KSU is ready for the renovation. However, before work can start, the project plans must go through the school’s Department of Engineering and Contract Administration.
The building should be ready by the start of the fall semester, Brown said. However, if the entire building cannot be completed in time for fall, the university will open two wings of the building until the rest can be finished.
In 2013, a previous university administration decided to stop using the building, which was believed to be “closed.”
“There was someone in the physical plant who never basically unplugged the building,” Brown said. “Even though it was closed, it stayed on the grid. In the summer, it had air. In the winter, it had heat.”
The building still has nice floors, large rooms, relatively new furniture and swipe-card door entries, he said.
“I think someone had a vision to make it really snazzy, which is an option, but it is functional. It is a very nice building,” Brown said.
As a result of the 2013 closure, the university moved 62 students and staff into Capital Plaza Hotel because there was not enough room in remaining dorms. The university also saw a larger-than-normal number of freshmen come in last year – 510. The estimated cost to house the students from Sept. 7 to Dec. 15 of last year at the hotel was approximately $160,000.
Brown said renovation of the dorm will be good for the community because it will allow KSU to grow.
“We need to have enough students that they are spilling over into the community for community service. They are spilling over into the community to buy groceries, foods, goods and services. That makes us a valuable economic engine for the region,” Brown said.
This article is provided via the Kentucky Press News Service.