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Local residents who work in the construction industry were already looking forward to the University of Notre Dame's plan to spend $500 million on new buildings and renovations during the next five years.
The picture got even better last month when the university added $400 million to its construction schedule with the Campus Crossroads project.
Campus Crossroads - the most expensive construction project in the university's history - will add two nine-story buildings and a six-story building to the exterior of Notre Dame Stadium.
No start date has been set, but construction is expected to last 33 months and require hundreds of workers.
"People in our area have been thrilled about the announcement," said Jeff Rea, president and CEO of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce. "There's a lot of excitement about what it will mean for construction jobs during the renovation."
But there will be long-term benefits as well, Rea added.
"It certainly puts the stadium on a different playing field than almost all other stadiums across the country," he said. "It continues to affirm this is a destination that people will want to visit and experience."
Don Fozo, executive director of the Michiana Area Construction Industry Advancement Fund, said overall demand for new construction has remained down since the recession.
"It's showing maybe a little bit of improvement, but nowhere near where it should be," he said. "That's what makes this (stadium project) so important."
Fozo said it's also reassuring for skilled trades unions to look ahead and see a major source of work. That helps them plan apprenticeship classes.
Campus Crossroads should provide a diversity of jobs because the three new buildings, which will include a total of 750,000 square feet of space, have been designed for many uses.
"It pretty much is all-encompassing of all the trades because of the type of addition it is," Fozo said.
The three buildings will include a new pressbox and premium seating for football games; a student center with fitness facilities, a dining area, lounges and a 500-seat ballroom; a digital media center and production studio; classrooms, laboratories and offices for the anthropology and psychology departments; and a new music building with recital and rehearsal halls, a library and a 350-seat lounge.
University spokesman Dennis Brown said the project also will require extensive utilities and other infrastructure to support the new buildings.
Doug Marsh, the university's architect, is working on the project with a team of architecture firms.
The S/L/A/M Collaborative, based in Glastonbury, Conn., is the lead firm. Chicago-based RATIO Architects is the co-designer. Workshop Architects, headquartered in Milwaukee, is the lead for the student center, and 360 Architecture, based in Kansas City, Mo., is working on the recreation center and hospitality areas.
Barton Malow Co., based near Detroit, is the contractor on the project.
Brown, the university spokesman, said officials expect most of the construction workers for the project will come from the Michiana region.
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The University of Notre Dame spent $510 million on construction and renovations between the 2007 and 2012 fiscal years. Officials said last fall that the university was planning to spend another $500 million during the next five years.
The $400 million Campus Crossroads project Notre Dame officials announced last month is in addition to that planned $500 million in construction spending.
Campus Crossroads, which will add three buildings to the exterior of Notre Dame Stadium, is the most expensive project in the university's history.
By comparison, the new Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, which opened in 2009 in Mishawaka, was built at a cost of $355 million. The Hummer H2 plant, which opened in 2002 in Mishawaka, cost $200 million.