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New Mexico State University

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NMSU Regents approve building projects

SANTA FE - New Mexico State University's Board of Regents gave approval to move forward on four building projects at its regular meeting Monday, Feb. 1, in Santa Fe.

The projects include the NMSU Dona Ana Community College Chaparral Center, phase one of the Center for the Arts, the Las Cruces campus bookstore and phase two of the Chamisa Village housing complex. The projects total more than $75 million in new construction for the NMSU system. Funding for the projects is available through a variety of sources including revenue bonds, voter-approved general obligation bonds, severance tax bonds and private gifts.

"All of these projects are meeting important needs for the communities we serve and are on aggressive building schedules," said Michael Rickenbaker, director of facilities planning and construction.

The NMSU Dona Ana Community College Chaparral Center construction project will be the first phase of construction for a permanent facility to replace current temporary facilities and will include the extension of roads and utilities into the site, construction of a new parking lot and storm water ponding areas.

The DACC Chaparral Center has been successful and space continues to be needed to accommodate growth and to meet projected demand for services. This 5,665-square-foot project sets the stage for further development of this campus.

Phase two of the Chamisa Village Apartments will provide 300 more beds to accommodate upper-level students who want to live on campus. The 127,321-square-foot project will be constructed next to and immediately east of the existing phase one Chamisa Village Apartments, which were completed in 2006 and have been such a great success that the first phase is completely full with a long waiting list.

The apartments will be loosely arranged in four courtyards, slightly smaller but more open-ended than the first phase courtyards, each with communal functions such as laundry facilities. The apartments will use existing parking that was originally constructed for the Alumni Dormitories, which were demolished in 2005.

The first phase of the Center for the Arts project is a 49,000-square-foot building containing a 500-seat performing arts theater with full fly loft for teaching stage craft, multi-disciplinary classrooms, rehearsal spaces, offices, galleries and laboratories and support spaces.

This facility will begin the university's intention to turn a face to the community of Las Cruces along University Avenue and to create a gateway feature at one of the main entrances to the university.

The Center for the Arts also will gather NMSU's scattered arts programs in one central location, encouraging more collaborative activity and providing the community easier accessibility to the many creative endeavors on campus. Its development has been planned in collaboration with each involved department and the community.

The bookstore is another new campus gateway project at the corner of University Avenue and Jordan Street and will contain spaces for several auxiliary functions and several retail commercial spaces. The new 45,000-square-foot building also will have a cafe space within it.

This project begins the first step in the transformation of this corner into the new entrance to the university, as envisioned in the 2006 Master Plan. The new bookstore also will fulfill a contractual obligation to Barnes & Noble and free up current bookstore space in the Corbett Center Student Union for student uses.

In other business, the Regents approved the naming of the Foreman Engineering Complex Room 330 as the William C. McCarthy STEM Memorial Laboratory. McCarthy, a long-time professor of civil engineering, former associate dean and interim dean of the College of Engineering, was instrumental in making the NMSU campus accessible to physically challenged persons and in the efforts to achieve ADA compliance for the campus. He unexpectedly passed away earlier this year.

The Regents also heard a report from Carmen Gonzales, vice president for student success, about enrollment. Spring enrollment at NMSU has increased more than 8 percent.

"Our analysis of enrollment data shows we are doing a good job of retaining students as well as bringing in new students. Retention success is especially reflected in the spring semester," Gonzales said.