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Concordia Campus Center project set for launch

Concordia College plans to start construction on a$32 million Campus Center next month, eight years after it was first proposed.

The college's board of regents awarded bids and authorized construction Saturday for what is believed to be the largest project in school history.

Calling it a "historic moment" for Concordia, board chairman Ronald Offutt said the Campus Center will change the face of the college significantly and serve the needs of students for generations to come.

Plans call for adding 69,000 square feet to Knutson Center, the college's existing student union, and renovating an additional 17,500 square feet of Knutson Center.

The Campus Center will consolidate the college's food services, at the same time moving the main dining area from the basement of Knutson Center to a ground-level area.


The facility also will house student services, student organizations and part of student affairs.

The $32 million price tag is $2 million more than previous estimates because of rising construction costs, said Werner Golling (formerly Werner Faries), the college's treasurer and vice president for business affairs.

The total includes $5.6 million in infrastructure work and a $5 million endowment to fund future operation and maintenance of the facility.

Concordia has privately raised more than $16 million, or about two-thirds of the construction costs.

Fundraising will continue during construction, college President Pamela Jolicoeur said. The college has "a lot of major donors" whose contributions haven't been finalized, she said.

The board of regents weighed the risks of starting construction without all of the funding in hand against the benefits of building now, Jolicoeur said.

"The students get to experience the building sooner, it becomes part of the campus tour when we bring students on campus, and it's symbolic," she said. "I think of momentum. The building's been stalled for so long, the construction of it says that we've moving ahead."

The Campus Center was first proposed in Concordia's 1997 campus master plan, but serious planning didn't begin until 2000.


A former garage and heating plant were demolished last October to make room for the project.

Crews will begin fencing off the project area next week, with construction starting in mid-October, Golling said. The new dining services and student organization areas will be open for fall semester 2007, while the renovated space will open in fall 2008, he said.

Gehrtz Construction Services Inc. of Fargo is the project's construction manager.

Readers an reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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