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Framingham State University may scale back on Hemenway building project after receiving higher cost estimates

Posted by Jaclyn Reiss  January 3, 2013 01:34 PM

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Framingham State University officials say they might need to scale back construction and renovations being made to the Hemenway Hall academic building after rising construction costs led the state to drive up the project cost estimate by $10 million.

The Hemenway Hall project, which received state approval for funding in 2010, will include a new science wing with 16 laboratories equipped with cutting-edge technology by 2014, as well as an update the building's existing windows and heating and ventilation system, said Dan Magazu, university spokesman.

Originally, representatives from the state's Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance estimated the project's cost to be $64 million, with the state funding most of the project - $54 million - and requiring the university to kick in $10 million.

However, state officials said other project estimates from around the state were spiking because of climbing construction costs, causing them to increase the Hemenway Hall cost estimate in November to $74 million, Magazu said.

"The main centerpiece of the project, the new wing, will still be included, but some of the smaller items we will either look to cut out or pay ourselves over time," Magazu said, noting that construction on the new wing is slated to begin this April.

"We have a limited amount of money to work with at this point, so right now we have asked the designer to look at areas to scale back on or achieve savings," Magazu added. "So there might be a few items we hoped to do that could get cut out."

Magazu said the university is still considering specifics of what to potentially cut out of the project.

University officials will also receive an updated estimate at the end of January from the state, he said.

"This is just an estimate - the project is not completely up to date," Magazu said. "It could come in lower than anticipated and it could be revised again."

The Hemenway Hall project comes after the university opened the brand-new North Hall in fall 2011. The state-of-the-art, $48 million dormitory houses 412 upperclassmen on campus.

University officials also began limiting the annual increase in its overall undergraduate enrollment to 2 percent this past September after experiencing surging enrollment. The school also hopes to build a new $42 million, 350-bed dormitory by 2015 to help deal with growing demand for on-campus housing.

University officials also said the new laboratory wing is essential: Framingham State's enrollment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs has spiked in the past five years. There are now 69 percent more math majors, 37 percent more biology students, and 32 percent more computer science majors, university president Tim Flanagan told the Globe last month.

"We have labs on campus right now, but they pale in comparison to these new labs," Magazu said. "These will have the latest technology that students in a variety of different departments will be able to use."

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

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