Work on new on residence hall to begin next month

Work on new on residence hall to begin next month

CHAMPAIGN – Construction is set to begin next month on a six-story residence hall to replace Presby House, a former women's dormitory run by the McKinley Presbyterian Foundation.

The new building, slated to open in August 2008, will have room for up to 264 men and women, plus two levels of underground parking. It will be covered in red brick to match the nearby McKinley Church and Foundation buildings.

The foundation, which faces Daniel Street, will undergo about $2 million in renovations, including a new geothermal heating and cooling system. That will require a series of wells to be dug, which means "we may lose all our trees, unfortunately," said Gary Chamberlain, McKinley's finance officer. The building will also get an upgraded computer network, a new resident director's apartment in the basement and meeting spaces for students.

The total project cost is about $20 million, including the $14 million residence hall, renovations to the church and foundation, architect's fees and interest payments, officials said.

The foundation is borrowing money for the project through revenue bonds, which will be repaid with rent from the residence hall, officials said. McKinley also hopes to launch a fundraising campaign sometime in the next year.

Presby House, a three-story brick mansion at 405 E. John St., should be demolished by the end of June, Chamberlain said. The first job will be removing the windows of the old building, where asbestos was found in the window glazing.

Crews from the Preservation and Conservation Association have been on site for about two weeks, salvaging architectural pieces of the 101-year-old building. McKinley returned some old wooden corner pieces to Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, which used the house until 1930. And it kept a "lovely" grandfather clock and grand piano, as well as some bricks for Presby House graduates, said the Rev. Heidi Weatherford, church pastor and foundation director.

Work on the new building and renovations to the church should begin by late June or July. Renovation work on the foundation building will start in August or September, Weatherford said.

Hillel Foundation rented Presby House this past year while its own center was rebuilt across the street. It's now in the church basement and looking for another temporary space until the new Margie K. & Louis N. Cohen Center for Jewish Life is completed in September or October, Chamberlain said.

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