University of Iowa asks state Board of Regents for $6.4 million in property, facility advancements

The University of Iowa presented their capital improvement goals to the state Board of Regents at committee meetings on Wednesday.


Eleanor Hildebrandt, News Reporter

The University of Iowa presented four projects, including a proposal to demolish the Westlawn building, to the state Board of Regents at a property and facilities meeting on Wednesday.

The four projects are focused on renovation planning, approving project descriptions and budgets, and revising a budget for expanding the heart and vascular cath labs for the UI’s Hospitals and Clinics. All four projects were approved by the committee and will be heard by the board next Wednesday.

UI Senior Vice President for Finance and Operations Rod Lehnertz said the UI is planning to renovate three levels of the Harding Library for Health Sciences and the Pharmaceutical Sciences Research Building. 

These renovations will help move the Office of Environmental and Health and Safety from a few obsolete buildings to the Hardin Library, Lehnertz said. The renovation of the Pharmaceutical Building will allow for the razing of Westlawn Hall he said.

“By simplifying the [pharmaceutical] building and making lab space office space, we would begin to enable a shifting of other health sciences related office space and consolidate at that site thus actually allowing us to empty the 1919 built Westlawn,” he said. “Which has been an operationally problematic building for decades and an increasing challenge for us.”

Lehnertz said razing Westlawn Hall would more efficiently use campus space. The project would have ongoing operational benefits for the university in multiple capacities. 

“This enables the razing of Westlawn, [which] has roughly $20 million dollars in deferred maintenance and an annual operating cost of roughly $900,000,” Lehnertz said. 

The other two projects together require the regents to approve nearly $6.4 million in funding. Both plan to be funded by university hospitals building usage funds or hospital revenue bonds.

The last project that was presented at the committee meeting will expand the heart and vascular cath labs at UIHC. The project initially received approval at the regents’ November 2020 meeting. After receiving bids from contractors, Lehnertz said the UI needed an increase in the budget for the project by $2.6 million.

“The complicated nature of the projects…within a space combined with the existing spaces and surrounded by spaces that would continue to be used during the project drove up costs by the contractors,” he said. “To advance the project the university is asking for the board’s concurrence and approval to increase the budget…for a total project budget of $30,600,000.” 

All four projects will be discussed by the board at its meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The agenda for the meeting has not been released.