No timeline set for Stevens Buildings project

By Madison Kacer

The Stevens Building renovation project will be starting back up due to a recently appropriated $15.5 million from the state, although there is no established timeline for the project.

It is believed that this appropriation will be sufficient enough to fund the completion of the project, said Alan Phillips, vice president for administration and finance. However, if the funds are not sufficient, university officials will have to seek additional funds, such as donations.

Work on the Stevens Building project stopped in June of 2015 due to a lack of state funding. However, university officials chose to continue heating the building during the winter months so as to not further damage the structure. When construction restarts, an assessment will be completed to find repairs that need to be made as a result of the project being stopped.

“We won’t know if there was damage until we start the project back up and get back into the building,” Phillips said. “There may be additional costs, but we do believe that we have sufficient funds to complete the project and any repairs that need to be made.”

This $15.5 million was appropriated specifically for the Stevens Building renovation. NIU was allocated a total of $48.3 million in the state budget that was passed on June 30 after the year-long budget impasse, which resulted from state lawmakers’ lack of agreement with Gov. Bruce Rauner on a budget for fiscal year 2016. Until the budget was passed, state budget appropriations could not be disbursed, including funding for higher education. State appropriations have yet to be disbursed.

The project, which was announced in 2010, is being completed by Rivers City Construction. It will address issues with the building’s heating/cooling systems, plumbing systems, electrical systems and crumbling exterior, Phillips said. The total cost of the project is projected to be $27.4 million.

Because the project is funded entirely by the state, it is managed by the Capital Development Board, an organization responsible for overseeing building projects for state properties.