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SNHU to build new library, dorm

New Hampshire Sunday News

February 11. 2012 11:36PM

Southern New Hampshire University plans to spend up to $45 million to build a new library, a new dorm and possibly a parking garage by early 2014, officials said Saturday.

'This is really a function of more demand,' President Paul LeBlanc said. 'We just have more and more students who come, and we keep growing.'

The university, which straddles the Hooksett-Manchester line, expects to borrow the money through a bond and repay the debt from its yearly operating budget, LeBlanc said. It also would need local approvals.

'We'd have to go through all the appropriate permitting just as anyone would with any building project,' he said.

LeBlanc is not sure how much local tax revenue the expansion would provide to Hooksett or Manchester.

The university has seen its undergraduate day student population rise from 1,880 two years ago to 2,358 for the current spring semester, according to Gregg Mazzola, the university's associate vice president of marketing and communications.

The university board of trustees unanimously approved the plans Friday.

Plans call for:

-- Building a Learning Commons to replace the current library. The new building would be constructed south of the main Dining Center in Hooksett, with an estimated completion date by January 2014. The 50,000-square-foot building would include maintaining a working collection of about 100,000 books, installing a cafe and adding group study rooms.

'You'd have a variety of study spaces that goes from reasonably quiet to whisper quiet,' LeBlanc said.

The Learning Commons has been in the design phase for months and will be built by Harvey Construction of Bedford. Its price tag is about $18 million.

-- Constructing a new dorm, most likely in Hooksett.

'We have built four new dorms in Hooksett over the last eight years, and our campus master plan in 2004 called for a fifth dorm in that same cluster,' LeBlanc said. Mazzola said the dorm would provide 300 beds and hopefully open by September 2013

-- Adding more parking and green space by January 2014.

'Students have asked for more green space on campus,' LeBlanc said. 'Parking is already very tight.'

Plans call for removing some of the parking between Robert Frost Hall and the Hospitality Center. The university is exploring building a parking garage. One option would be constructing an 800-space garage, costing $12 million, near the Fieldhouse, built into the sloping topography in Manchester, LeBlanc said.

He said there are savings achieved by doing multiple projects simultaneously.

'It's a fine-tuned set of projects to coordinate,' he said

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