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UA Foundation seeks funding for Old Main renovations

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Alexander Plaumann and Alexander Plaumann | The Daily Wildcat Alexander Plaumann // The Daily Wildcat Employees of Dickens Quality Demolition works on interior renovations in Old Main, on August 27, 2013 on the University of Arizona campus. Renovations have been ongoing over the summer, in preparation for a new and improved Old Main.

Although Old Main is already under construction, the project has yet to reach its $13.5 million funding goal.

In January 2013, Sundt Construction Inc. began renovations for the building which was estimated to be finished April 2014. The renovations were initially for the roof, stairs and porches after the second floor flooded in February 2012, but became a more extensive preservation project as construction went on.

The estimated cost for the project is $13.5 millionbut the building renewal fund could only provide $1 million. Most of the construction has been selective demolition and peeling away the outside layers of Old Main, which has been sponsored by the renewal funds.

However, rather than limiting the construction to “band-aid work,” the UA has taken an initiative to preserve the oldest building on campus, according to Peter Dourlein, assistant vice president of UA Planning, Design and Construction.

“It wasn’t really a choice of whether or not to do something for the building,” Dourlein said. “It had gotten to the point where parts of it were closed because they couldn’t be used, essentially.”

As part of an initiative to create more funding from the public, the UA will host a “Save Old Main Kickoff” event today.

UA Foundation members have been working on both private and public fundraising projects for about a year to establish more funds for Old Main’s renovations, according to Jim Moore, Chief Executive Officer of the UA Foundation. The UA Foundation helps manage the university’s fundraising programs. Moore said he hopes events such as the kickoff will give Old Main more exposure.

“As most private support projects go, you work quietly and try to garnish some support and engage people,” Moore said. “Then, you do a more public appeal later on, so that’s where we’re at now.”

Rick Myers, chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, said the foundation had a plan and was very confident that they would raise all the money, so the board approved the project before it was fully funded.

Seeking donations for these kinds of projects is common especially with an “iconic” building such as Old Main, Myers said, adding that a majority of the funding for Old Main will come from “thousands of alumni” donating hundreds of dollars at a time.

“Millions of dollars, there’s not a lot of people that can give that overnight,” Myers said. “They really think most of that funding will come over the next three or four years.”

If the foundation doesn’t raise the money in time, it will give the UA a zero interest loan to finish the project while it continues to raise money to pay off the loan, Myers added.

“The foundation is taking the risk because if they don’t raise the money in time they’ll … fund it themselves,” Myers said. “We wanted to make sure that there was no risk that it would come back and we’d have to take tuition money or something to do the project.”

The loan will cover the difference between what is raised in one year and the $4 million first-year goal, Moore said.

Funding efforts will continue until the four-year $13.5 million goal is reached and if it’s not met, the construction of Old Main may be prolonged. The current goal for completion is the summer of 2014 so the building can open for use in August.

Once construction is completed, the building will house the president’s office and her staff.

Administration is also planning for a board meeting room, a multi-function room and a regents office, according to Dourlein. Old Main will also feature casework and displays from the Arizona State Museum collection and possibly the UA Museum of Art, Dourlein said in an email.

“Its not a matter of if it’s reached, but more a matter of when it’s reached,” Dourlein said. “Old Main will be restored. The university will make sure of that.”

If you go:

What: Save Old Main Kickoff Event

When: Today, the 122 anniversary of the first day of classes at Old Main, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Where: On the Mall on the east side of Old Main

- Follow Micah Montiel @MicahMontiel


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