State Building Commisson to consider $20 million UWM hospital purchase today

At its meeting today the State Building Commission will review the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee’s plans to purchase the Columbia St. Mary’s hospital campus near the UWM campus.
UWM announced last week that it has obtained an option to purchase the hospital complex for $20.155 million.
The Columbia St. Mary’s hospital campus is located on an 11-acre site at 2025 E. Newport Ave., adjacent to the UWM campus on Milwaukee’s East Side.
Columbia St. Mary’s is vacating the facility as it consolidates those operations into an expansion of its campus at Prospect and North avenues.
The hospital campus near UWM has seven buildings with a total of 828,000 square feet of space, a 5-story parking structure with 788 parking spaces and surface parking with 174 spaces.
“Throughout my tenure at UWM, we have referred to the Columbia St. Mary’s property as the ‘final frontier’ for East Side campus expansion,” said UWM Chancellor Carlos Santiago. “I am extremely pleased that UWM and Columbia St. Mary’s have reached an agreement in principle that will make this acquisition possible. It will allow our landlocked campus to partially alleviate an acute need for space and to expand core facilities that will serve future generations of students and community members.”
The $20.155 million purchase price was the average of two appraisals of the property, according to UWM. State policy indicates that the purchase price of property acquired by a state agency can be no more than the average of two appraisals.
UWM has not identified its special plans for the hospital property. A master plan for the UWM campus outlined a variety of potential uses for the Columbia St. Mary’s property, including student services and academic/instructional space.
A state-approved feasibility study of the Columbia St. Mary’s property in 2005 included student housing as a potential use. However, UWM officials say the need for university housing has been significantly addressed through the renovation of Kenilworth Square and the construction of the RiverView and Cambridge Commons residence halls on North Avenue.
When Cambridge Commons opens for the fall 2010 semester, UWM will be able to provide a bed for nearly every incoming new freshman in a university housing facility. As a result, in the immediate future, the need for student housing facilities on the Columbia St. Mary’s property would be less than originally envisioned, UWM officials say.
If completed, the acquisition of the hospital campus will be the largest expansion of the university’s East Side campus since UWM acquired the 43-acre, 14-building Milwaukee-Downer College campus (the land north of Hartford Avenue between Downer and Maryland avenues) in 1964.
“This is an exciting day for UWM and the University of Wisconsin System,” said Charles Pruitt, president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents. “As UWM has shown significant growth in enrollment and research over the past decade, the Board of Regents and UW System administration have made a commitment to ensure that the university is equipped to meet its mission of serving the people of Wisconsin. This purchase proposal responds to the state’s critical need to expand and strengthen Wisconsin’s second-largest university, making it possible to better educate our citizens and produce more college graduates who will help build our economy.”

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