ERIC WEDDLE, Journal & Courier
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
---- — WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — The long-delayed Seng-Liang Wang Hall, a $38 million Purdue University building on Northwestern Avenue, will open in August.
Initially envisioned as heavy mix of commercial business and the new home for School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, the four-story, 147,000-square-foot facility will now be leased mostly to Purdue engineering programs, plus the Purdue Federal Credit Union and a few restaurants on the ground level.
Plans to expand the College of Engineering led to the shift in the building tenants, said Joe Hornett, Purdue Research Foundation chief operating officer. The foundation is developing the building with Indianapolis-based Browning Investments and is leasing space to Purdue.
"When President (Mitch) Daniels came up with the list of Purdue Moves, one of those was definite: we are going to expand the college," he said about how Wang Hall became more of an academic focus. "This is still mixed use. The tenants have changed."
As part of the expansion, goals are set to enroll 1,500 more engineering students by 2016, a 14 percent increase, and hire up to 107 additional faculty in the next five years.
The delay in Wang Hall's completion has been a mix of state and local approvals. In 2011 community members and some city officials raised concerns with Purdue Research Foundation about the project's impact on the adjacent New Chauncey Neighborhood. Those groups found compromise, yet much time passed before the State Budget Committee approved a sublease agreement between PRF and the university.
The School of Electrical and Computer Engineering will use about 41,000 square feet for laboratories, offices, conference rooms and more at the building just south of the intersection of Northwestern and Stadium avenues. Also in the building will be the School of Engineering Education and Center for Professional Studies, also know as ProStar. That program offers technical online courses, certifications and weekend programs.
The fourth floor will be used as temporary homes for engineering facilities that are undergoing renovations. Staff and others will relocate to the area until work is complete so education and research won't be affected, Hornett said.
Bob Falk, president and CEO of Purdue Federal Credit Union, said employees are eager to move into Wang Hall. The credit union was in one of several buildings demolished to make way for the hall. Since late 2012, the branch temporarily relocated to Purdue West shopping center.
"They built a beautiful building," Falk told the Journal & Courier (http://on.jconline.com/PpTMbw ). "The change in the tenants works for us, because virtually everyone in the building will be eligible to be customers."
Falk said the Purdue West location will remain open through most of the year.
Who the credit union will share the ground floor with is unknown. Hornett said discussions are underway with about 20 entities.
"Two or three restaurants/coffee shops," Hornett said about what will eventually open there. "We are still working on getting those landed."
Wang Hall was originally envisioned as an $18 million building to house the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering as part of Discovery Park on the west side of campus. Patrick Wang, chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson Electric in Hong Kong, and his wife, Lucy, gave $5 million in 2003 for that building. Wang Hall is named after Patrick Wang's father.
Purdue will pay $18 million in the form of prepaid rent as part of the sublease agreement for the Electrical and Computer Engineering School space — $14.8 million will come from gifts, and the rest from capital reserve funds. In addition to the prepaid rent on the sublease, Purdue will be responsible for a proportionate share of common area, building operation and maintenance costs, as are other tenants in the facility, according to Purdue Research Foundation.
Information from: Journal and Courier, http://www.jconline.com
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