ALLENDALE — If there’s one constant with a school the size of Grand Valley State University, it’s that construction becomes a near ubiquitous occurrence on campus.
At a recent meeting, the GVSU board of trustees signed off on another $18.7 million in renovations and additions to the university’s main campus.
The announcement comes as the university pours millions of dollars in renovations and new construction projects, including the new Science and Math facility, renovations to Zumberg library, a new building at the Annis Water Resource Institute in Muskegon, the new Seidman College of Business in Grand Rapids and the new Mary Idema Pew Library in Allendale.
On top of that activity, the trustees this month approved a renovation and addition to the aging Au Sable Hall, as well as the construction of a new Laker Marketplace.
Au Sable Hall is getting a $6.7 million, 22,000-square-foot extension on the building’s east side to provide an expected eight additional classrooms and 16 faculty offices, along with study space for students.
The two-story, 45,000-square-foot Laker Marketplace project will replace the current bookstore at the university’s Kirkhof Center, which will make way for additional meeting space, food service amenities and student activities areas.
Both projects are expected to reach a minimum LEED standard, according to the university.
“These projects demonstrate quite innovative ways to improve service to our students,” GVSU President Tom Haas told MiBiz. “We heard many times that students want additional space like this, and we want to create an environment that further supports our students needs.”
With a growing population of international students, Haas said the Au Sable Hall renovation allows the ELS Language Center the opportunity to relocate back to the Allendale campus. ELS is currently renting space off-campus.
The ELS program, affiliated with GVSU for more than 10 years, continues to matriculate more students to the university, and the additional space will come as a welcome relief for the program, Haas said.
Around 130 international students are currently enrolled at GVSU.
Additionally, growing pains at the university’s Kirkhof Center are also part of the reason for the new Laker Marketplace facility. Overcrowding in peak times during the day, especially around noon, is driving the need for the new facility, according to a recent report in The Lanthorn, GVSU’s student-run newspaper.
“The Marketplace has been thought of for actually quite a while because we have run out of space entirely in the Kirkhof Center,” Matt McLogan, vice president for university relations, told The Lanthorn. “We’ve added onto it twice and practically can’t add onto it anymore.”
The price tag on the Marketplace is approximately $12 million, and in addition to selling books and electronics, the new space will also act as somewhat of a convenience store, Haas said.
The bill for the construction is provided by the university’s auxiliary fund, which comes from Housing and Residence Life, Campus Dining and the Meadows Golf Course.
The Laker Marketplace project is designed by the Grand Rapids-based architecture firm Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber Inc. and Progressive AE designed the Au Sable Hall addition. Erhardt Construction Co. is overseeing the construction of AuSable and Pioneer Construction is responsible for the Laker Marketplace.
In related campus development news, the trustees also approved the purchase for $315,000 of two parcels of land along 48th Avenue totaling 18 acres, according to a statement from the university.
According to a report in The Lanthorn, Tom Butcher, the university’s general counsel, told trustees the real estate on the corner of 48th Avenue and Luce Street is a sensible move on the part of the university because of its proximity to existing university-owned property. The administration has not yet determined any specific use for the real estate at this time, according to reports.
With a hefty load of ongoing projects, Haas said no new construction is planned for this year and the downtown campus isn’t expected to see further development after the completion of the $40 million L. WIlliam Seidman Center to house the Seidman College of Business.