Student center

USM dormitory, student center construction project delayed by epidemic

A $100 million residence and student center project at the University of Southern Maine has been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak, with officials now eyeing a soft opening in May 2023.

The project was originally slated for completion in August 2022, but was pushed back as the university reassessed finances and due to initial licensing delays, said Nancy Griffin, USM’s chief operating officer.

“We do our due diligence reviewing every project, particularly in light of what happened and what could potentially happen under COVID-19,” Griffin said. “We are really excited about this project and deeply committed. This is a priority for the establishment.

She said the university is reassessing the cost of the student center portion of the project, which was originally estimated at $30 million.

Griffin, who provided an update on the project to the finance, facilities and technology committee of the University of Maine system board on Wednesday, said USM is considering a small student center with Capstone Development Partners, the developer of the project, and asked them to reduce the cost to around $25 million.

The new schedule for the project includes a soft opening in May 2023 and the full opening of the 577-bed residence hall, the first student housing on the USM campus in Portland, and the student center in fall 2023.

The university will also conduct another market analysis assessing student housing demand in the fall, but Griffin said she still plans to be able to fill dorm beds.

Short-term revenue losses due to the coronavirus are estimated at $20 million across the University of Maine system, with most of that money coming from student room and board reimbursements.

The system has also adjusted its budget calendar to allow university presidents to present updated budgets to the board in May, with final budget approval likely in late June.

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