COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The University of Missouri said Thursday that it will tear down eight buildings and vacate Mizzou North as part of a plan that is expected to save tens of millions of dollars.
MU leaders unveiled the university's Space Reduction and Strategic Relocation Plan on Thursday. The plan is expected to save MU more than $93.7 million in repair and maintenance costs and about $2.5 million in annual operating costs, according to a news release.
The plan calls for demolishing Parker Hall, Noyes Hall, the Old Student Health Building, the Columbia Professional Building, Loeb Hall, London Hall and the Neff Annex.
A spokesman for the university Christian Basi said the University constantly reviews buildings on campus and assigns them a rating based on a formula.
"There's a certain point where that rating number hits a point where it will be cheaper to demolish a building than it does to do all the work necessary to keep it up and make sure it continues in a functional manor," Basi said.
Basi noted that the $93.7 million is not money that was previously set aside with the ability to be moved elsewhere.
"It's kind of like having a massive to-do list, and now we have few things on our to-do list," Basi said. "So it's money we don't have to spend, but it's not money we will have to recover elsewhere."
The plan also calls for moving out of the Mizzou North location on Business Loop 70 and continuing to try to sell the property.
The Museum of Art & Archaeology and the Museum of Anthropology at Mizzou North will be emptied and their collections moved to the central campus. Staff is working on a plan for the Museum of Art and Archaeology's future, the release says.
“With evolving technology, we do not need as many buildings as we once did,” Gary Ward, vice chancellor for operations, said in the release. “Additionally, our maintenance and repair backlog are now approximately $868 million. These actions will help us reduce that number significantly.”
Basi said the backlog of deferred maintenance is still extremely high, even after those 9 buildings are taken off the list. He said after the announcement today, it will be around $775 million dollars.
Basi also said this will reduce the university's physical footprint, and further their reach to become more environmentally conscious by reducing utility use and other factors.
"It's disappointing that many of them do have to come down, but at the same time bringing them down really does help us not only with a financial stewardship model but with our environmental and carbon stewardship as well," Basi said.
The plan includes the Office of the Registrar taking over the central scheduling of classes. Some departments, schools and colleges have sole control over certain classrooms under current operations.
Staff in some buildings might have to move, including Clark, Lewis, McReynolds and Middlebush halls.
The university will first vacate the buildings, which is happening now, then take bids from companies for the demolition contracts. Basi said it depends on the timeline if one of several companies will be hired to take them down.
Historical preservation organizations have expressed some concerns about the plans. The interim director of Missouri Preservation was shocked to find out the buildings would be taken down.
"It's going to ruin the beauty of their campus," Price said. "Part of the college experience is and the beautiful atmosphere you're in."
Price wasn't aware that any of those buildings were any of the buildings on a historical register, but that doesn't mean they don't hold historic meaning.
"The memories it leaves behind for everyone else who wants to come back, but then they aren't there anymore, it's just kinda odd," Price said.
Price said now that she's aware of the plans, she plans to contact the university to see if there is anything that can be done to save the buildings.
"Universities are these places where we are supposed to encourage innovation and ideas and give real-life experience to students," Price said. "Why not take this historic property and use that as a real-life learning tool."
Basi responded to the pushback saying this is something that has to happen for the financial health of the institution.
"We appreciate and understand the historic nature of some of our buildings on campus," Basi said. "Unfortunately, we are in a position where we have to make this happen, we are at a point in time with our finances where it is important for us to do, we do not have the resources to maintain some of these buildings."
There are no plans to build anything in place of the buildings in the near future, according to Basi. He said the lots will likely be turned into green spaces once the demolition is complete.
There is no specific timeline for the plan, but Basi said a lot will be happening in the next several months.