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Transformational building project on USM's Portland Campus awarded

aerial image of USM's Portland campus

The largest building project in the University of Southern Maine’s history — building a Career/Student Center, residence hall and new campus green on the Portland campus — has been awarded to Capstone Development Partners, a student housing real estate development company exclusively focused on working with colleges and universities in public private partnerships.

Work will begin as soon as the University of Maine System procurement process is completed and Board of Trustees' approval has been granted.

"This project will fundamentally transform our Portland campus and our university as a whole," said USM President Cummings, who announced the decision on Nov. 19. "When the project is completed we will have in place a sustainable, iconic academic campus in the economic and cultural heart of Maine's largest city, enhancing the student experience while creating a welcoming residential community."

USM will be deploying bond monies passed by Maine voters last year to construct the Career/Student Center. The University's Career and Employment Hub will anchor the state-of-the-art Center, with dining services, lounges, meeting space and student organizational offices also located there.

The new residence hall, the first-ever on USM's Portland campus, will be located adjacent to the new Career/Student Center. Providing housing for 550 students, it will be funded through a private-public partnership (P3), with Capstone Development Partners absorbing the costs of construction.

Fronting both the Career/Student Center and the residence hall will be a new campus green that will replace a parking lot.

"The addition of undergraduate and graduate student housing on USM's Portland campus is welcome news", said Kate Snyder, Portland's Mayor-elect. "A great city is anchored by quality education institutions. USM's increased enrollment and mission-driven improvements are great for Portland ."

"As a Portland resident, and USM neighbor, I am eager to see the new residence hall in place, which will provide affordable Portland housing for students, and at the same time free up affordable housing for other Portland residents," added Snyder.

As a university committed to sustainability, the project will move USM forward in achieving its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040. Capstone's bid includes a proposal that the residence hall be built as Passive House, which would likely make it the largest Passive House residence hall project in New England.

Capstone's proposal also includes constructing the Career/Student Center with cross-laminated lumber. The project will also be one of, if not the largest, project in Maine to use cross-laminated timber (CLT).  

"This is truly a great day for Maine's forest products industry," said Senator Angus King. "I've long advocated for the use of cross-laminated timber as a great way to highlight the many benefits of this building material at the University of Southern Maine and other facilities. The use of CLT will open new doors for our state's forest products industry, allowing for continued innovation and economic growth.

"USM has a long record of helping future Maine leaders gain the skills they need to make a major impact on our state, and this new facility will give students and faculty new tools to enhance their efforts, added Senator King. "Furthermore, if we're going to succeed in the fight against climate change, we must invest in more sustainable materials --- like CLT --- that work to limit carbon emissions and effectively reduce the amount of carbon in the air. I commend USM for their commitment not only to the people and forests of Maine, but also by setting an example nationwide of environmentally conscious building practices."

Capstone Development Partners, which has just been awarded the contract through a competitive RFP process, is a student housing real estate company exclusively focused on working with colleges and university in public private partnerships.  They have selected to partner with Portland-based SMRT Architects on these new buildings for USM. 

Ground will be broken this coming May with the project expected to be completed before the fall of 2022.

USM plans a Launch Ceremony in December to formally unveil proposed design renderings of the project and provide additional information and details on the project.

Read more about the project in the Portland Press Herald.