Bidding for construction rights to new Rec Center now open

Students play basketball in the Student Recreation Center on December 7, 2016. The UConn Board of Trustees has authorized the start of bidding for the new rec center that will open in 2019. (Owen Bonaventura/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Board of Trustees approved a plan on Wednesday to authorize the bidding phase for the construction of the new Student Recreation Center. The project was originally approved in Nov. 2013 and was allocated a design budget of $100 million.   

The new Recreation Center will be located at the center of the Storrs campus, and is anticipated to boast more than 191,000 square feet of space. The new building will occupy the former site of Connecticut Commons residence hall complex and is planned to be completed by 2019.

“Final drawings for the building will be complete February 2017,” UConn Master Planner and Chief Architect Laura Cruickshank said.  “Final drawings for a building enabling package including site excavation and site utilities, will be complete December 2016 with bidding taking place in January 2017.”

According to the Board of Trustees meeting, student fees directly associated with the costs of the new facility will not be issued until fiscal year 2020.

Although the planning and development of such types of construction projects are normally handled by the Construction Management and Oversight committee, this committee has not been able to meet in nearly a year.

“That committee has not met because previous members’ terms expired and UConn is waiting for the governor’s office to appoint new members so there is a quorum,” UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said.

Nonetheless, the work associated with the project has still been discussed in detail and this has not derailed the project in any way.
“The project has been discussed by the trustees’ Buildings, Grounds and Environment Committee in the meantime, and it is in the design phase” Reitz said.

Overall, the project is still intended to finish within the original time-frame. During the bidding phase, which is set to begin, different contractors will assess and determine if they would like to pursue the project.  

“The Construction Manager will be bidding the balance of the main building project in March 2017 and will submit the guaranteed maximum price in April 2017,” Cruickshank said. “Construction will start in April 2017 and occupancy is expected in July 2019 and the project will be constructed under a Project Labor Agreement.”

A Project Labor Agreement or PLA is defined as a collective bargaining agreement with a labor union or group of unions.  These programs establish the relationship between a contractor and their client and provide details on the cost allocated for work.

Unionized labor is allowed to work on the project, thus shutting out a portion of the labor market.

The effects of these agreements are not known to have any effect on overall cost of projects. According to the United States Congressional Research Service, “In short, much of the research on the effect of PLAs on the costs of construction is inconclusive.”
The most recent budgetary details released show that the facility’s actual construction expenses are set to $ 75.5 million.  “The University plans to reimburse itself at a later date when new bonds backed by the commitment of future student fees are issued,” Cruickshank said.


Fatir Qureshi is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at fatir.qureshi@uconn.edu.