University seeks partners to develop College Ave. campus

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Sites A, B, and C are open for development proposals. Map provided by University of Regina

Sites A, B, and C are open for development proposals. Map provided by University of Regina

Land leases intended to fund restoration project

The University of Regina is seeking partners to develop on three areas of the College Avenue campus. This comes as part of the University’s College Avenue Campus Renewal Project, an effort to raise the millions of dollars necessary to repair and revitalize the aging campus. On Jan. 12, a call was put out seeking proposals from potential partners.

The College Avenue Campus is a historic site, featuring buildings that are over 100 years old. The campus houses the Conservatory of Performing Arts, Centre for Continuing Education, and Darke Hall – a 610-seat performance space.

The three parcels of land were chosen with input from the Wascana Centre Authority, and the recent campus master plan consultations. Each parcel is approximately two acres in size, and may be leased wholly, or divided up, depending on the proposals received. According to the official press release, it is unlikely that all three sites will be developed at once.

The land would not be sold outright, but would instead be leased to the developer on a long-term basis. Cost and term-length will depend on the proposals. The press release is quick to point out that the U of R would still own and operate all existing buildings and programs currently situated on the College Avenue campus. In fact, it is hoped that with the renewal fully funded, program expansions can be considered.

Initial estimates for the renewal of the College Avenue campus totaled $50-60 million, but the press release acknowledges that time and inflation have likely driven that number higher. A new evaluation of both the costs and needs of the facilities is currently underway. As the official statement is quick to point out, “the capital costs of replacing the facility are far exceeded by the long term economic, educational, and cultural benefits for our community.”

The University intends to be very careful in their choice of partners on the project. Proposals have been limited to those who demonstrate “office, educational, cultural, or artistic functions. No other commercial activities will be considered.”

In addition, proposals will be asked to demonstrate a level of synergy with all members of the Wascana Centre Authority, which will hopefully result in reduced operating costs for the College Avenue Campus.

Applicants will also be required to demonstrate their commitment to the site’s long-term sustainability. “Through this process,” reads the release, “the University is looking for resources to help preserve the unique history of the CAC, protect its heritage, and enhance the park landscape that surrounds it.”

The College Avenue Campus Renewal Project has stated its dedication to preserving the heritage associated with the historic campus, while meeting the needs of a modern educational institution. According to the project website, “Attention will be paid to maintaining historic integrity while addressing current realities. The pressing need for accessibility, efficient operations, and teaching and learning technology will be met.”

According to the press release, “The CAC Renewal Project is the University’s number one capital priority.”

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