NIU sells bonds for campus renovations

Build America Bond saleNorthern Illinois University has completed the sale of  Build America Bonds to fund a series of renovations across campus.

The bond sale, which was approved by the NIU Board of Trustees in October, was conducted Thursday, Dec. 9. The university had to complete the sale prior to Dec. 31 to qualify for the federally funded Build America Bond program, which will subsidize 35 percent of the cost of paying off the bonds.

“That is a fantastic savings for the university, for our students, and we are delighted that the board had the foresight to approve this program in a timely manner so that we could complete the sale well in advance of the deadline,” said NIU President John G. Peters.

Two types of bonds – taxable and tax exempt – were sold at an average interest rate of 5.31 percent.

The money raised by the sale of the bonds will be used to fund a series of projects proposed by Peters during his State of the University address this past fall, including:

  • New Intramural Sports Complex. Potential facilities include two softball/baseball fields, two football/rugby fields and two soccer/lacrosse fields, some of which might have artificial turf. The lighted complex also might include tournament-quality sand volleyball courts, bathrooms, a concession stand, spectator seating, scoreboards and equipment storage.
  • Grant Towers remodeling. Ongoing remodeling work at Grant Towers will expand the size of the average room in the C and D towers by 30 percent and provide greater privacy in restrooms. All mechanical, HVAC and electrical systems (original to the 40-plus-year-old structure) will also be replaced.
  • Gilbert Hall rehabilitation and remodel. Gilbert Hall, which has not been used to house students since 1995, will be completely modernized. All HVAC, electrical and plumbing in the 60-year-old building will be replaced. The facility’s East Campus location is expected to make it an extremely popular living option.
  • Parking and Road Improvements, Bike Paths. At least eight parking lots on campus will be expanded, repaired or replaced to enhance parking, especially for commuter students. The main roadway on West Campus, as well as a portion of Kishwaukee Drive on the eastern edge of campus, will be replaced with a heavy-duty roadbed to better withstand the constant pounding from Huskie Bus traffic. Also included in the plan are long-contemplated bike paths and bike parking lots to encourage travel by bicycle instead of car.
  • Repairs and remodeling at Holmes Student Center. One of the primary public spaces on campus, the Holmes Student Center has seen few improvements since it opened in 1962. The roofs and HVAC systems will be replaced, some public spaces will be updated, handicapped accessibility will be improved and the bookstore will be overhauled.
  • Stevenson Towers Fire Sprinkler System. This work will bring the building into compliance with a law passed by the State of Illinois in 2004, which requires all college residence halls in the state to have sprinkler systems for fire suppression. 
Grant Hall resident floorplan

Planning for those projects has been underway in anticipation of the bond sale, and some work could begin this spring.

“We are eager to get to work on these projects, which promise to transform  our campus,” said Peters.

The bonds will be repaid through  a graduated increase in the student revenue bond fee. Students living in residence halls also will pay a modest surcharge to support these bonds.

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