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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    New dorms approved

    New dorms approved

    The Arizona Board of Regents approved the University of Arizona’s request to begin constructing new residence halls, despite one resident’s 12-year fight over the UA’s eminent domain action.

    William Kennedy, 78, is a resident of the home on East Sixth Street east of North Euclid Avenue and addressed the board, urging them to reevaluate the life estate arrangement previously granted to him by the regents in 1996.

    “”(Twelve years ago) the regents made me a promise that my wife and I could live in our house as long as we wanted,”” Kennedy said. “”That promise has been broken and the amount offered by the UA is not enough to purchase a home of comparable value. The university is taking more than it’s willing to give in compensation.””

    Steven Kennedy, 31, son of William Kennedy, also addressed the board saying his family supports the construction of new residence halls, but should be compensated appropriately.

    “”We are not contesting the new dorms,”” he said. “”But do not leave my family, my parents out on the street. We ask the board to uphold the promise it made 12 years ago, of providing security and comfort to my parents.””

    The three new residence halls will be constructed on three sites on the UA’s main campus: the northeast corner of East Sixth Street and North Euclid Avenue, the northeast corner of East Sixth Street and North Highland Avenue and East Fourth Street between North Cherry and Highland Avenues, replacing the Hopi Lodge Residence Hall, according to the regents.

    Construction for the new halls will cost around $180 million, with 1,188 beds constructed at the three separate sites. The halls will house new students and help promote academic achievement and retention of students, said Regents Anne Mariucci, the main overseer of the project and the only one who voted against its implementation.

    Mariucci said the high cost of the project was the main reason she couldn’t support it.

    “”There is no question that we need it, but are we prepared to build a facility at this expense?”” she asked. “”We are building a Ritz Carlton and charging Motel 6 prices. This isn’t the best use of $180 million.””

    Marrucci said a third-party developer could build the new halls using 100 percent of his owncapital for significantly less.

    “”We are looking at $341 per square foot, versus $154 per square foot,”” she said. “”We have selected the most expensive alternative, rather than thinking that what’s good enough for tax payers should be good enough for students.””

    Although Regent Dennis DeConcini approved the measure, he also expressed concern over the cost of the project, and wondered if a third-party contractor would not have been a better option.

    “”We should have been presented with all the options before the project went underway,”” he said. “”I’m gonna support this, but in the future I’m not gonna be presented with this dilemma again. I think we need a better presentation of the project when we get to more planning.””

    Fred Boice, Regent’s president, said the project would increase the quality of living for students at the UA.

    “”I don’t want to spend money for nothing more than it’s worth, but I want a quality project,”” Boice said.

    Regent Ernest Calderón expressed his support of the project and said students should not have to pay more for high quality living arrangements.

    “”I was persuaded by it,”” he said. “”I believe in quality and I don’t think we should charge students more, but keep the living cost at a flat rate.””

    Calderón, however, expressed concern over demolishing Hopi Lodge, requesting that the UA should consult with the Hopi nation regarding sensitivity of the site, if they are going to change the name of the new hall.

    “”If we aren’t going to retain the name of the hall, we need to do something to honor the Hopi, since we are tearing it down,”” he said.

    DeConcini said he supports the project, but urged the regents to consider the Kennedy case further.

    “”I approve it, taking into account the comments from the Kennedy family,”” he said. “”I instruct President Shelton and his representatives to continue to work with the Kennedy family.””

    Regent Fred DuVal said the Kennedys’ situation would be looked at more closely.

    “”What the board is saying is that we need to move forward and recognize the emotional equity of this case,”” he said. “”There is more to this than a dollar figure.””

    DuVal said the board should reach a settlement over the next month.

    For the Kennedys, those words are meaningless unless they are followed by action.

    “”The UA has always presented an optimistic face and offered help,”” said Steven Kennedy. “”But there is a difference between saying one thing and doing another.””

    Still, he said the regent’s words were reassuring.

    “”We will just have to wait and see,”” he said.

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