By Anne Marie Amacher
DAVENPORT — Five large summer projects on the St. Ambrose University campus are delivering a $27 million impact on the local economy. According to the university, the economic impact is twice the cost of the projects. Approximately 270 jobs have been created due to these projects.
Mike Poster, vice president for finance at St. Ambrose, said two of the projects address concerns that neighbors have about students renting apartments and parking in the surrounding neighborhood.
The first project involves construction of the 204-bed North Hall on campus. This $10 million project, started last September, features a four-floor residence hall with suites and apartment-style rooms.
Poster said the additional beds should accommodate all students who want to live on campus. “We are catching up with growth. We feel that all who want to live on campus will be able to live on campus this fall.”
Bush Construction Company of Davenport is the main contractor for this project.
Three new parking lots near Gaines Street are being installed, which addresses the second concern of neighbors. An additional 130 parking spaces will become available when the lots are completed, Poster noted. Several homes the university owned were removed to make room for the lots.
Gaines Street has been closed for the past two weeks as the lots require installation of a drainage system. “The city does not allow rainwater runoff anymore,” he said. So Holst Trucking and Excavating of LeClaire is adding a storm water detention system to allow for a slow release of water after a storm.
The parking lots can be paved and striped after completion of the detention system. Total project cost is $600,000.
Other projects underway include a $1.5 million renovation of Lewis Hall to add new chemistry and biology labs on the first floor. “This is due to the continued expansion of our health sciences program,” Poster said. The physics department will be moved elsewhere on campus to make room for the new labs. Russell Construction Co. of Davenport is doing the renovations.
In Cosgrove Hall the main dining room is being expanded to accommodate more students who will be living on campus. The $600,000 expansion, on the north side of the hall, will accommodate an additional 100 students. Russell Construction is doing the work. An addition to the west side was added six or seven years ago, Poster said
The final major project at the university is a new data center, which will be in the St. Ambrose Library basement. Poster said the Information Technology (IT) department will have a new, state-of-the-art center with environmental controls.
The IT department had been located in the basement of Cosgrove Hall under the kitchen, which caused some issues with current technology. “The system was outdated, the air conditioning was not working properly and we needed to invest in our technology.”
He said it made sense to move into the library, which has space available as well as wiring and technology. The $800,000 project is a joint effort of the St. Ambrose physical plant with assistance from Hornbuckle Heating & Air Conditioning of Davenport, Tri-City Electric of Davenport and KJWW Engineering Consultants of Rock Island, Ill.
In a usual summer, projects such as the Lewis Hall work and the data system project would be done, Poster said. But the university issued $12 million in bonds in December to add the residence hall, parking lots and dining room expansion.
All projects are expected to be complete by early August — some much sooner. First day of classes is Aug. 22.