UI officials announce new flood recovery completion dates

BY LUKE VOELZ | JUNE 09, 2011 7:20 AM

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University of Iowa officials announced tentative completion dates for major flood-recovery projects on Wednesday, some of which lag behind initial estimates.

During the discussion at Wednesday’s state Board of Regents meeting, officials said Art Building West is first on the list, with renovation finishing in October.

“It’s our first major recovery project to begin and to finish, so it’s important to us,” said Rod Lehnertz, the director of planning, construction, and design for UI Facilities Management.

Other Arts Campus buildings are facing substantially longer completion dates.

The new studio-arts facility won’t be finished until December 2015, and the new music facility — originally estimated to be completed December 2015 — will now be delayed until May 2016.

UI School of Music Director David Gier said he understands the need for additional construction time.

“Sooner would be better, but we understand there have been a number of complications getting to this point,” he said. “We’re just looking forward to getting the building under way.”

The music school is currently spread throughout various facilities — which, Gier admits, can be challenging.

“It’s difficult being in numerous locations, spread out around campus and not having a concert hall,” he said. “We struggle with those two issues for sure, but students are very resilient, and faculty remains optimistic.”

Hancher Auditorium will be the last to see the light of day, in June 2016. Hancher communications director Rob Cline said he understands the theater has a long road to a new facility.

“We’ve been lucky to work in a community that appreciates art, and is open to us, and allows us the use of their facilities,” he said.

However, he admitted, most Hancher employees miss the comforts of the old building.

“Our great big lobby was sort of like a community living room,” he said. “Right now, there’s no building like that.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has announced $386 million to fund the three arts buildings, but its review process for the majority of recovery projects will not finish until this October. Regent President David Miles said the regents are worried the length of the review process will further delay repair efforts.

“We remain concerned that we don’t have final resolution over a number of issues with FEMA,” he said. “We’re going to continue to monitor that.”

Miles, who expressed concern about the lack of recovery timetables during the April regents’ meeting, said he was glad to see the estimates.

“I think the timelines being presented are reasonable, and we’re very pleased with the work of the University of Iowa,” he said.

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