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The Daily Reporter

 

The state is looking for a general contractor to build a new Southeast Recreational Facility at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a project that carries a $96.5 million price tag.

Wisconsin's Department of Administration recently posted an advertisement soliciting bids from both general contractors and mechanical, electrical and plumbing subs.

According to bid documents, the work will include demolishing the existing 170,145-gross-square-foot recreational center and replacing it on the same site with a 240,560-gross-square-foot building. The new center will remain connected to a nearby arena, the LaBahn, using a skywalk.

State officials have two bid openings scheduled for the project. One for mechanical, electrical and plumbing bidders is to take place at 2 p.m. on Aug. 9, and one for general contractors at 2 p.m. on Aug. 23.

With the new center, students will have eight basketball courts, which is twice as many as are found in the existing building; 30,400 square feet of fitness space, 3 ½ times more than is there now; five fitness studios; nearly 30 short-course pool lanes; a diving well; and 1,200 seats of spectator seating.

UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone said in an email that the current recreation center "is our most popular campus rec facility. "

"A new building is needed to serve the increasing demand from students," she added.

Alex Peirce, associate director of marketing and communications for UW-Madison's division of recreational sports, said one of the biggest benefits of the new center is that it will add to the total amount of square footage that students have for recreational pursuits. She noted that, compared with college campuses of similar size, UW-Madison has much less space set aside for those purposes.

From AB: Building Blogs: University of Wisconsin Rec Sports

"We're finally able to address that need and give students what they're asking for here," she said.

The new recreation center has won support both from students and lawmakers. UW-Madison students bestowed their approval in a referendum held in 2014, agreeing to pay higher segregated fees through the year 2022 to help pay for the new building.

Of the project's total budget, $42 million is now to come from those fees. Other sources of money meanwhile include donations and revenue from recreational programs.

As for lawmakers, members of the state's Building Commission gave the project their approval this spring. As part of the request that went before them, commission members were asked and agreed to increase the project's budget by $9 million, up from the $87.5 million specified in the state's budget passed in 2015.

McGlone said the increase was the result of inflation.

Although the new recreation center is certainly not an inexpensive project, at least one state lawmaker said he thinks the state could be doing more vertical construction.

Rep. Gordon Hintz, a Democrat from Oshkosh and former member of the building commission, said last week that he has seen work on too many long-planned projects being put off.

Hintz now sits on the state's Joint Finance Committee, which has been embroiled for months in a disagreement over the state's next transportation budget. Hintz said that with so much attention being paid to roads, state-owned buildings have taken a back seat.

But the needs, he said, are just as great with vertical projects.

"That problem is getting worse and worse, just like our roads," Hintz said.

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