Jennifer Johnson, Forum News Service, Published July 18 2013
UND picks site of new $124 million medical schoolGRAND FORKS - University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley announced Wednesday that a site has been selected for a new School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
The $123.7 million facility will be located on an 8.25-acre plot of land at the southwest corner of the intersection of North Columbia Road and Gateway Drive, according to the university. Funding for the building was appropriated during the last legislative session.
“The selection of a building site is a critical milestone in the construction of our new (facility) and ultimately our ability to better serve the state of North Dakota,” said Kelley.
Joshua Wynne, vice president for health affairs and dean of the medical school, said the facility is “the critical component” in the School’s Health Care Workforce Initiative, a plan that helps better meet the state’s health care workforce needs.
Student convenience, parking availability and the university’s strategic plan were the main factors weighed by the site recommendation committee, according to Wynne. A public forum on the project was also held in June.
“No site was perfect, but the site that was selected was clearly the best of all of the options,” he said.
The committee, along with the university’s senior leadership, evaluated several options, including the parking lot of the Chester Fritz Auditorium. While the location would be close to several university functions, the biggest disadvantage was the lack of parking, he said.
“Another was the vibration from the railroad,” he said. “We have sensitive instruments in the building.”
One option was the soccer field north of the current medical school building. However, a 100-foot easement runs through the center of the property that the city wouldn’t allow development on, said Wynne.
UND officials expect to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility in July 2014 and complete construction by July 2016.