IBHE approves building plans

By Eric Krol

The Campus Life Building and new parking structure are now officially set in stone.

The Illinois Board of Higher Education gave the rubber stamp Tuesday to NIU’s plan to build a $7.95 million Campus Life Building and $8.9 million campus parking structure.

The plans for the two projects had been approved by the Board of Regents at its July meeting. The Board of Regents governs NIU, Illinois State University at Normal and Sangamon State University at Springfield, but the IBHE gives the final approval for all state public university projects.

No debate was held at the meeting because the Regents had pretty much given its seal of approval to the two projects.

The often-delayed Campus Life Building will encompass 55,000 square feet and house student organizations and create a commuter center.

The Campus Life Building had been on the shelf since the late 1980s until the NIU administration, led by Eddie Williams, vice president of Finance and Planning, resurrected the project last year. The project encountered some student opposition along the way, led by then Student Association President Preston Came, but gained approval.

The parking garage will be located behind Founders Memorial Library. The structure will have five levels and four bays, creating 1,200 parking spaces on a campus with a history of parking problems.

The parking structure will displace several groups, including the Honors Program, The Northern Star, Athletic Counseling Office, Center for Black Studies and the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies. Some of the affected groups will move to temporary locations for the next two years before moving into the Campus Life Building or other vacant parts of NIU.

The Center for Black Studies will move into a new building and the Star will move into the Campus Life Building.

The parking garage will go up first, with bids being issued and construction expected to start in the spring.

After the parking garage is started, construction will begin on the Campus Life Building.