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UA's aging buildings get a budget boost

Posted at 6:39 PM, May 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-12 08:00:09-04

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - There is good news for UA, and the job market.

The University's getting a big cash infusion to bring old, 20th Century buildings to 21st Century standards.

All three state universities got a budget boost to help repair and renovate older buildings---and modernize their technology.

The work should boost the job market too.

UA is a beautiful campus full of sophisticated buildings but some of those buildings are showing their age. Now, state lawmakers have given the University a chance to renovate and upgrade these buildings so they are as modern as the instruction and research that happens inside them.

 Facilities Vice President Robert Smith is in charge of keeping UA's buildings safe, effective places to learn.  He showed us around the Old Chemistry building.

The work there requires a building with sophisticated systems.

"It has to function with a lot of air flow.  It has to handle chemicals.  It's a rather complex amount of research that's done here."

But the building students call Old Chem, is really old---81 years old. 

A lot of the building systems pre-date World War Two---and look it.

To have enough power and ventilation to support the building’s modern labs UA had to shut down other lab space and use it for storage.

Old Chem's not the only building UA needs to modernize.  Now it will have the money to do it.

State lawmakers passed a budget that gives UA, ASU and NAU, a pool of 27 million dollars for the next 25 years, and the authority to borrow up to a billion dollars.

Robert Smith says, "What is going to mean is that buildings like this across the entire campus we're going to be able to repair and renovate and get another 50 years or more of use out of those buildings so it's a very important thing for us."

And upgrading buildings is important for more than UA's ability to offer strong educations.  It should make the job market stronger too. The Arizona Board of Regents says construction for all three state universities should create 22 hundred jobs and add $166 Million to Arizona's economy.