Ala. universities enjoy building boom

Posted by Bryan Henry  -  bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama universities are scooping up good opportunities when it comes to building projects. At Troy University, for example, work is well underway on a new basketball area and that's not all.

"We're also building a new dining facility," said Jim Bookout, Vice Chancellor of Finance and Business Affairs.

In all 9 new construction projects worth around $80 million. Much of the money used to build everything is borrowed money. Never a better time to do just that, according to Bookout.

"The reason is because construction costs are lower than they have been in 10 years," Bookout said.

Put it another way contractors need the work.

"A lot of competition with few jobs," observed Bookout.

You can also find a lot of new construction going on at Alabama State University and beyond.

It's a similar scene at the University of Alabama where school leaders are spending more than $230 million on projects such as the new nursing building and a 7-story residential hall. The university says its building boom is due to increased enrollment over the last 10 years.

Dr. Freddie Gallot is Vice President of Business and Finance at ASU in Montgomery, the site of at least 5 new construction projects.

"We're able to borrow money at a good rate and we're getting good results as far as the bidding we have with contractors," said Dr. Gallot.

Gallot and Bookout are fully aware there are those who may question the wisdom of borrowing so much money at a time when the economy is still wobbly.

Their view is they can't afford not to.

"If ASU is to remain competitive we have no other choice," said Dr. Gallot.

Auburn University Montgomery and Auburn University are each building new wellness centers. AUM is spending approximately $10 million while Auburn University will spend $72 million.

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