UI wants new Hancher site

BY TESSA McLEAN | APRIL 24, 2009 7:32 AM

UI officials will seek approval to relocate the Hancher/Voxman/Clapp complex at the Board of Regents meeting next week.

According to the meeting agenda, officials have outlined seven reasons for replacing the buildings in a different location, including sustainability opportunities for the new facility, cost, continued threat of flooding, and the availability of commercial flood insurance.

UI spokesman Steve Parrott referred to President Obama when he described the approach the UI is taking toward the relocation.

“Never let a crisis go to waste,” he said. “We want to tell the regents why it’s best to relocate instead of rebuild. It is hard to protect the complex where it is now.”

The growth of the arts program is another reason to rebuild the complex.

The 300,000-square-foot complex — Hancher Auditorium, Voxman Music Building, and Clapp Recital Hall — could be moved to any of eight sites identified at the March regents meeting. Possible sites include Hubbard Park, the Hawkeye Marching Band field, and a space north and west of the existing facility.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay for 90 percent of the cost of rebuilding the complex in a new location as well as Art Building East. If the UI rebuilds the facility in the existing location and another flood occurs, less aid would be available next time from FEMA and insurance.

Officials plan to make a specific site recommendation at the regents’ June meeting.

Replacing the complex in a new location is estimated at $114 million, according to the document — $52 million for the parking structure and the added sustainability features. Rebuilding at the current location would cost an estimated $65 million.

UI officials have estimated flood-damage costs to total around $743 million, triple the university’s original estimate. After FEMA aid, the university would still need to pay $175 million to $185 million in recovery efforts.

UI freshman Caitlin Forrester only attend Hancher once for a dance show, but she thinks relocation is a good idea if it will increase sustainability efforts.

“A university is a place that can act as a bigger example for other campuses,” the political-science major said. “It is a good idea in the long run.”

The regents will meet April 29 and 30 at the University of Northern Iowa.

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