School lining up financing for new facility
Posted: November 27, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — Shenandoah University officials are lining up financing in anticipation of making a decision next year on whether to build a new Health Sciences building on its campus.
The university has asked the town of Mount Jackson’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) to assist with the issuance of up to $16 million in Educational Facilities Revenue Bonds to pay for the project and related expenses. The bonds would be issued over two calendar years.
Mitch Moore, the university’s vice president for advancement, said constructing the building on the main campus would allow SU to leave space it leases on the Winchester Medical Center campus. A decision by the school’s board of trustees is expected sometime in 2013, perhaps as early as the spring.
“We’re trying to have all our options open and line up as much tax-exempt, bank-secure funding as we can for a Health Sciences building,” he said. “...We wanted to have a good number of bond issues in place so we could move forward quickly for our faculty and students.”
The new building, Moore said, would house the university’s athletic training program, its graduate and undergraduate nursing programs, and many of its chemistry and biology classes.
“Our undergraduate natural science programs, especially chemistry and biology, are booming,” he said. “One of the reasons we need this type of building is that we are running out of lab space.”
Documents related to the bond issuance indicate that the building would be between 50,000 and 55,000 square feet. Moore said it would be built on open space near Mary M. Henkel Hall and the Alson H. Smith Jr. Library.
Bond documents also include a 28,000- to 40,000-square-foot dormitory on the campus in the city and a 95,000- to 120,000-square-foot athletic field house in Frederick County as spending options for the money. However, Moore characterized those projects as fallbacks in case something unexpectedly “were to go awry” with the Health Sciences building.
“The other two we’d like to build at some point in the future,” he said. “But the Health Sciences building is the priority for [SU President Tracy Fitzsimmons], and I’d be shocked if it didn’t happen.”
Mount Jackson’s EDA is being used to facilitate the transaction because Winchester has reached its bonding capacity for the year.
State law requires SU to receive permission from the city before it completes the transaction with another local authority. City Council will discuss a resolution concurring with the action at tonight’s work session and could approve it as early as its Dec. 11 meeting.
Moore said the goal is to have the bond issuance approved before the end of December so Mount Jackson’s unused bonding capacity for 2012 can be leveraged. The remaining amount would be issued in 2013.
“I’d say a decision will be made sometime in 2013,” he said. “Probably in the spring or summer we’ll have a much better feel of how we’re going to move on this project. We’re just trying to line up things in the event that we can move forward with this building in 2013.”
The last new building opened on Shenandoah’s campus was the Brandt Student Center, which began operations in June 2008.
— Contact Vic Bradshaw at firstname.lastname@example.org