Brown House

Brown House on East Union Street, which is headed toward likely demolition. Photo by Conor Morris.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees last week approved several big construction projects, as well as a new six-year capital-improvement plan to guide potential big construction and renovation projects over the next six years.

Some of the bigger construction projects approved include the next phase of a project to renovate Clippinger Hall on OU’s Athens campus and approval of demolition of Brown House on the College Green.

The Trustees approved the university’s “phase two” of a renovation strategy for Clippinger Hall, which will involve an estimated $33.6 million renovation project beginning late in Fiscal Year 2020 (likely in summer 2021) to renovate that facility as the university builds a new classroom building in Clippinger’s parking lot (which is currently under way).

Meanwhile, the Trustees approved the university’s continued work on a $767,000 project to work with the city to create a pedestrian tunnel under Richland Avenue (see related story on page 3) and to improve sidewalks in the area, along with modifying Bobcat Lane to allow for left-hand turns (which are currently prohibited) and expand the bus stop in that area near Baker Center.

The Trustees also approved adding $5.4 million to an already $2 million project to upgrade the restrooms and heating and cooling systems in Gamertsfelder Hall on the East Green. They also approved a $1.8 million project to renovate Grosvenor Hall, which is currently occupied by the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine. That will allow for OU administrators to be moved from the West Union Street Office Center and Human Resources Center on West Union in Athens to Grosvenor Hall by late 2020, according to a university release. Meanwhile, OU HCOM’s staff and students will be moved to a planned building on West Union Street as well as the Human Resources Center.

The Trustees also approved spending $815,000 to demolish Brown House – a home built in 1928 located on University Terrace, near the College Green – and a maintenance building located nearby on Jefferson Hill. The OU Board of Trustees’ agenda for its March meeting this year suggested that that demolition of Brown House would only cost $275,000 to $400,000. It’s not clear what caused the increase in estimated cost.

In other news, total expenditures on OU infrastructure improvements called for in the six-year-capital plan were reduced after some planning measures, OU’s Trustees agenda reads, meaning that spending on those measures will be slowed down and “implemented over a longer period of time.” In total, that plan is calling for $368.5 million in capital-project spending over six years, which includes $29 million of potential state capital funding.

The Trustees also had a discussion about updates to OU’s Student Code of Conduct policies. The NEWS will have a story on that discussion in the coming week.

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