Spokane Journal of Business

Gonzaga to build housing on former law school site

University plans to renovate other law school buildings once they’re vacated in June

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Gonzaga University plans to raze in July the soon-to-be-vacated building that currently houses the library and classrooms for its School of Law, and build in the structures place three apartment buildings for student housing.

The apartment buildings, which will be built on a block bounded by Sharp Avenue, Dakota Street, Sinto Avenue, and Standard Street, will have a combined total of 50 living units, each of which will contain three beds, and thus will house up to 150 students, says Gonzaga spokesman Dale Goodwin.

The structure currently on that site, which is Gonzagas main law school building, years ago housed Webster Elementary School. It and three other law school buildings all will be vacated in May when the Gonzaga School of Law moves into its new $17.5 million, 104,000-square-foot building, being constructed on the southern edge of the campus. The new law school building will open June 5 for the start of summer classes, Goodwin says.

He says the apartment buildings to be built on the former law school site are expected to resemble the Dussault apartments, at the north 900 block of Pearl Street, and the Birch apartments, located nearby at the southwest corner of Sharp and Lidgerwood Street. Those projects, which cost a combined $6.1 million to design, build, and furnish, were completed in 1995 and 1996 respectively.

A cost estimate for the planned 50-unit apartment complex hasnt been completed yet, Goodwin says. He says the university plans to begin the selection process this spring for a contractor to help design and build the housing project, which is expected to be ready for occupancy by July 2001.

The housing project is needed because, We anticipate a continued increase in enrollment over the next five to seven years, Goodwin says. The universitys freshman class this year is the largest in the schools historywith 700 members. Next fall, Gonzaga is projecting a freshmen class of about 770, he says.

In addition to the new apartments, the university plans to convert to their former uses the other three buildings that the law school plans to vacate, Goodwin says. He says one of the buildings previously had housed a dormitory, another had housed a health center, and the other had been a single-family residence.

The former dormitory, called Chardin Hall, is located at the northeast corner of Sharp and Dakota. That building, which currently houses offices for the law schools faculty, will be renovated this summer and is expected to house 53 students by this fall, Goodwin says. He says the renovation work likely will cost between $10,000 and $15,000, and furnishings for the dormitory are expected to cost another $75,000.

The law schools administration building, located at the southeast corner of Sharp and Dakota, will return to its former use as the campus health center, which currently is located elsewhere on campus. Goodwin says only minimal renovation work will be required.

Finally, the former house, located on Sharp just east of Chardin Hall, which currently houses the law schools Law Review center, will be converted into a housing rental, he says.

Meanwhile, on the southern part of the campus where the new law school is being completed, Goodwin says that the universitys long-term master plan calls for three more academic buildings to be erected on the remaining acreage the university bought about a year ago from the U.S. Postal Service.

Thats still 25 to 30 years out, though, he says.

Gonzaga bought the 14-acre site from the Postal Service so that it could build the new law school on a portion of it. The Postal Service vacated the large mail processing and distribution center there last month when it moved into its new facility on the West Plains.

For now, Gonzaga plans to renovate the former mail center into office space, then lease that space to businesses here. Goodwin says efforts are under way to market the space.

Renovation work isnt expected to get under way until the university secures tenants for the building. Goodwin says that the buildings only tenant currently is the U.S. Postal Service, which is leasing the north end of the building.

  • Lisa Harrell

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