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Buffalo State capital projects total $110 million

The new Burchfield Penney Art Center may be the latest addition to Buffalo State College, but it could be just the beginning for the Elmwood Avenue campus.

More than $100 million in capital projects are scheduled to begin at Buffalo State this spring, according to college officials.

They include a $50 million campus housing project, a new $56.4 million math and science building, and a sparkling new $8.2 million campus quad.

Also in the works is a 4,000-seat football stadium next to campus at the site of a former steel plant, where the city now stores impounded and abandoned vehicles.

The planned construction spree raises eyebrows given the budget cuts within the State University of New York system and the state's fiscal crisis.

"That's not to say we won't see long-awaited updates and improvements," said Buffalo State President Muriel A. Howard. "We will."

Much of this capital funding was approved in 2007-08, as part of a five-year construction plan, where the state bonds money for projects, explained Stanley Kardonsky, vice president of finance and management for Buffalo State.

There has been no word that the state is slowing down that timetable, so Buffalo State is moving ahead with the construction, which should help the Western New York economy, Kardonsky said.

"These projects were always important for the college, but now they're even more important for the community," Kardonsky said.

Howard and Kardonsky discussed details of the proposed projects at a State of the College address Thursday.

Buffalo State -- which has a space crunch and still houses some students in a nearby hotel -- was prepared to partner with private developers to provide off-campus student housing, but decided to erect two, four-story dormitories on a campus parking lot at Grant and Letchworth streets, near Campus West School.

Each floor will have 16, four-bedroom apartments with full kitchens. Both buildings will have a first-floor common room and laundry facilities. Work is scheduled to begin in June and be completed by fall of 2010.

The math and science building, meanwhile, will be completed in two phases at the site of the current science complex, near the Scajaquada Expressway.

The first phase -- starting in June and ending in 2012 -- will include a new addition with a multistory glass atrium and modern research and teaching facilities. The second phase -- scheduled to begin in 2011 -- will feature a new lecture hall and planetarium.

Buffalo State also will spend $8.2 million this year to reconstruct the campus' main quad to include more green space, expand outdoor seating, enhance lighting and add a new outdoor cafe.

The other projects planned this year include the reconstruction of Rockwell Road, $700,000; roof replacements, $500,000; and electrical substation replacement for additional electrical power, $9.5 million.

But Buffalo State has even more in mind for the future, including:

*A new $40.3 million technology center. The campus laundry and bakery buildings will be demolished to make way for the new center, which will provide computer labs, research space and house the departments of technology and computer information systems.

*A new 4,000-seat stadium to be used by Buffalo State and Buffalo Public Schools for football. No funding is in place for the project, and the college still would need to negotiate with the city for the Dart Street property.


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