Saturday, December 27, 2008

Former Newman Club building at the UofMN for Lease; Archdiocese can't agree with U on purchase agreement

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The rapidly growing University of Minnesota is about to become a bit smaller.

After 10 years of renting the 1701 University classroom building on University Avenue, the University decided to terminate the lease at the end of October.

The lease will end after the spring 2009 semester, and classes using the nine rooms in the building will have to relocate within the University, Director of Classroom Management Steve Fitzgerald said.

The University made an offer a few months ago to purchase the property from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis , who owns the building, but the bid was denied.

“The University made us an offer and we didn’t accept it because we didn’t feel it was an acceptable offer,” Dennis McGrath, archdiocese director of communications said. “We didn’t feel it was adequate.”

When the Newman Center moved into St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Dinkytown in 1999, the University began using the 1701 building for classes.

The University had a long-term lease on the building, but the University’s Director of Real Estate, Sue Weinberg, said they made an offer to buy the building instead. The plan was to buy the land and fix the “inadequate building systems” for future classes.

“It would be our hope to acquire the property and then make a sufficient investment to put it in a good condition that would allow us to have classes in the building during the summer months,” Weinberg said, adding that all renovations since the University began its lease have been cosmetic.

The Archdiocese has found a real estate firm to lease the building.

NorthMarq real estate advisor Kevin Peck said they will try to find someone to lease the building from the Archdiocese, but they do not know who will move in.

“I don’t think there’s a preference for any certain type of business,” Peck said.

NorthMarq has already seen interest from different groups, Peck said.

Some issues with the condition of the 1701 building, like lack of air conditioning, have created problems for Spanish and Portuguese junior Stacy Weltzin .

“It was uncomfortable, especially for a class period that was, like, two hours long,” she said. “You don’t want to sit there and be sweating to death in class for two hours.”

The University tries to keep old building systems up to date, and the office of classroom management continues to try to have renovations approved, Fitzgerald said.

“We’ve got so many buildings that are old at the University that there are some other classrooms that are at the low end of the quality spectrum,” he said. “We’ve made great progress over the past years in improving classrooms in general, and we want to continue to do that.” Minnesota Daily

Tip O' the Hat to Brian Marshall, Temporary Cub Reporter



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