The University of Southern Maine unveiled details of its largest-ever building project, the nearly $100 million construction of a career and student center and dormitory on the Portland campus.
The new buildings will be dramatically improve facilities for all students on the Portland campus, offering a new career hub to better connect students and employers in the community and the campus’s first dormitory. They are tentatively scheduled to begin construction in the spring of 2020 and be complete by the fall of 2022.
The launch ceremony, held on December 17th in the Glickman Library, included renderings of the planned buildings, new details on what they’ll include and a variety of guests including representatives of the project’s developer, Capstone Development Partners.
USM President Glenn Cummings told attendees that the improved facilities, particularly the housing, are sorely needed for USM to continue its growth.
“Our students are telling us that affordable housing is really important to them,” Cummings said. “And we know that the rising off-campus cost can prevent some students from continuing their education.”
The entire project is awaiting the approval of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, which is expected to address it in January. Funding is coming from a public-private partnership.
Jeff Jones, the principal of Capstone Development Partners, applauded USM and the university system for their work.
“Transformational projects like this one, of this scale and significance, don’t just happen,” Jones said. “They come about because people have exercised extraordinary leadership and vision. These things happen when motivated people work hard and have the skills and tenacity to see these projects to the starting gate, which is where we are Today.”
The new career and student center will include dining services, student organizations, open spaces for students, a university store, veterans services and the career hub. The dormitory will have approximately 550 beds in a mixture of bed-and-bath rooms, studio apartments and larger apartments with multiple bedrooms. The new housing would focus on undergraduates in their upper-class years, graduate students and law students. Currently, the only residential housing USM offers is on the Gorham campus, where occupancy is at 118 percent.
The entire project is working on a tight deadline.
In 2014 and 2015, about 1,000 students lived on the Gorham campus, said Nancy Griffin, USM’s Chief Operations Officer.
“Today, we’re housing 1,347 students,” Griffin said. “And we want to grow more for next year. We need beds and we need them today.”
Jones said his group is up to the challenge.
“Our team and the USM team will labor over the design and construction details to assure that this project meets our shared goals and standards of quality, sustainability and rental rate affordability,” Jones said. “We will subject ourselves to stringent schedules and unforgiving deadlines.”