A multiphase project to create new, modern student housing for University of Wyoming students has taken a major step forward with action by the UW Board of Trustees Thursday.
The first on-the-ground activity is scheduled to start in spring 2020 with the demolition of Wyoming Hall, at the corner of 15th and Willett streets, to clear the way for construction of at least one new residence hall.
In addition to authorizing demolition of the building currently used for UW staff offices, the board directed the UW administration to proceed with $1 million in renovations of Hill Hall — a former residence hall that has been vacant for several years — to provide office “swing space” and relocate those displaced by the Wyo Hall demolition.
“While final details of the number and exact location of new residence halls are still being determined, we are ready to get started preparing the area currently occupied by Wyo Hall for construction of a new housing facility,” UW Acting President Neil Theobald says. “The board’s actions have paved the way for the start of what will be a very exciting series of improvements in the housing options available to our students.”
The Wyoming Legislature has authorized construction of $300 million in new campus housing at UW, to be financed primarily through issuance of bonds. A legislatively created UW Housing Task Force is working with UW officials to plan and site the new facilities, with a directive that they be constructed west of 15th Street near the Wyoming Union and Half Acre Recreation and Wellness Center.
In line with that direction, the trustees this week authorized construction of “an appropriate number of buildings along the western edge of 15th Street,” including Wyo Hall and the parking lot immediately south of it. The board also directed the UW administration to incorporate food service facilities in that area.
Additionally, trustees directed the administration to evaluate three former residence halls now used for offices and classrooms — Ross Hall, Knight Hall and Hoyt Hall — to determine if it’s feasible to renovate them back into residence halls. No decisions have been made on whether to pursue that option — just to determine if it’s possible.
UW’s draft campus master plan has identified other existing facilities where people currently in Ross, Knight and Hoyt halls could be relocated.
Additionally, recognizing that residence hall and other construction is reducing parking around campus, trustees authorized construction of a multistory parking garage on UW’s current Ivinson Avenue parking lot.
Finally, the board directed the administration to “proceed with urgency” to begin financing of the residence hall project — and to prepare a five-year timeline for residence hall construction.
Replacement of UW’s outdated residence halls is a top construction priority of the university.