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Regents OK plan for new BHSU dorm

SPEARFISH -- Black Hills State University won approval Thursday from the state Board of Regents to move ahead toward construction of a new $10.8 million residence hall and a $385,000 parking lot.

The 196-bed dorm would replace two existing ones, Pangburn and Humbert, which were built in the 1950s. Pangburn is being considered for conversion to office space and Humbert's future hasn't been determined.

BHSU also received regents' permission to proceed with a lease for the alumni foundation to use 1.58 acres of campus land for a new welcome center and 35-space parking lot that will be entirely financed by the foundation. The location would be at the site of the old tennis courts.

The new residence hall would connect with Heidepriem and Thomas halls in a three-legged arrangement. Those two existing dorms would be made ADA accessible as part of the project.

The new hall would offer suite-style living, with two students having private bedrooms and a shared bathroom.

Overall bed space would increase by 33, for a total of 806 available for students on campus.

"This is more of a quality upgrade than a quantity upgrade," Kathy Johnson, vice president of finance and administration for the university, told the regents' building committee during a presentation Wednesday.

Construction would start in fall 2013 with the timetable calling for the new hall to be ready for occupants during the summer 2015 conference season.

Student room rates are proposed to increase by 5 percent and double apartment rates would go up 7 percent. The parking lot would be financed in part by a 34 percent hike in the price of a parking permit $75.

That set of decisions will be made in April by the regents as part of the overall process for setting tuition and fees throughout the university system.