Lack of state funding halts Tucker Hall renovation

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February 19, 2010

3:01 AM

The College of William and Mary’s plan to renovate Tucker Hall may be delayed due to budgetary issues in Richmond.

The plan was fully funded by Richmond for its first two phases, which included feasibility studies and the development of initial blueprints. Those cost $563,000. The College is currently waiting on an additional $12.1 million for the final phase, which will result in construction-worthy blueprints as well as the actual
renovation.

The delay in funds results from a cap on Virginia’s debt capacity, the amount it is legally allowed to borrow.
Because state spending has already reached the ceiling of 5 percent of total state revenue — a Virginia state policy — the completion of the project relies on the state’s future abilities to take further debt. The drop in overall state revenues has further lowered the amount the state can legally borrow.

“The state has been extremely generous to us in terms of funds,” Vice President for Administration Anna
Martin said. “This [delay] is the result of the national economy and the state’s debt capacity.”

The renovation project seeks to overhall Tucker Hall, home to the English department, Charles Center and
Writing Resources Center, which has not been renovated since 1967 when the building housed the law school.

Efforts in renovating the building include realigning to proper building codes, including the construction of an elevator for students with disabilities. Tucker Hall currently does not conform to regulations laid out in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The renovation will also restore the building’s split staircase, part of the original structure but since converted to bend only clockwise.

“We’re hoping that the historic parts of the building will come back in the renovation,” English department Administrative Assistant and Renovation Committee member Kathy O’Brien said. “We want to realign Tucker with the Wren Building’s design.”

Other renovations include opening the cupola to a large student lounge on the third floor and revamping the Tucker Hall theater. Approximately 45 seats will be removed to allow for more personal space within the facility.

Va. Gov. Robert McDonnell has set the third and final phase of the project for the July 2011 budget. The College originally planned to receive the funds this year.

According to Martin, once the College receives the funds, it will spend six months finalizing construction plans and one year to complete the renovation, making January 2013 the earliest the building will reopen.

Until the project is completed, the English department will continue to operate out of Tyler Hall.

English faculty members have said they are ready to return to Tucker, however.

“Tucker had an ugly design but it was also kind of homey,” English professor Jack Martin said. “On the other hand, there are no smells of sewage in Tyler.”

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