UNA passed resolution to buy Keystone Building

The Keystone Business Centre holds various personal and government offices. The board of trustees approved the purchase of the building including internal fixtures and furniture for $1.8 million during an executive session Feb. 22.

by News Editor Anna Beahm

The board of trustees approved the purchase of the Keystone Business Centre on Seminary Street during an executive council meeting Feb. 22. The building will house the Department of Human Environmental Sciences.

The university will purchase the building, including all internal fixtures and furniture, for $1.8 million, said Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Clinton Carter.

“The property meets our needs better than any of the other properties we’ve looked at,” Carter said. “There’s no need to renovate. It just needs modest improvements for classroom space.”

The building is less than a mile from campus, according to the resolution.

He said he suggested the university purchase the building with cash reserves other than a loan to avoid more debt and immediately own the building.

“This basically is the first domino to fall in place to make everything else that we’ve been working on happen,” said trustee Steve Pierce.

The 30,000-square-foot building comes with an additional 8,000-square-foot basement, Carter said. The building also comes with an 87-space parking lot.

“There’s plenty of parking to go around,” Carter said.

Carter said there are four spaces in the building the university can automatically start upgrading to classroom spaces.

In addition to the initial cost of the building, Carter said the university set aside $400,000 for renovations and upgrades to accommodate the department except for culinary arts.

“We have authority to spend up to $400,000 to retro fit the necessary classrooms (to accommodate the department),” said Pro-tempore of the board of trustees Marty Abroms.

Carter said he estimates HES will move into the building in January 2017. Floyd demolition should begin February or March 2017, he said.

“We are delayed at this point one semester on the nursing building primarily as a result of HES moving to Floyd as opposed to doing more construction,” he said. “We think we can make up that in the construction schedule, which I think is about 18 months.”

Several tenants still occupy the Keystone, Carter said. The university will honor the tenants’ contracts until they expire, which is the end of this year, he said.

The building is about 0.8 miles from campus. Calculations from Google Maps indicate it takes about 16 minutes to walk to the building from campus.

While university officials have not yet determined whether they will run a shuttle bus to the building, there are other ways students can shorten the walk, said Student Government Association President Nick Lang.

“I know that we currently have a shuttle bus that drops students off at the downtown Florence parking deck,” he said in an email. “With that being said, I think the students could ride that shuttle bus downtown to shorten their walk to the new building.”

With other departments occupying buildings in downtown and other parts of Florence, Lang said he expects the university will continue expanding into downtown Florence.

“UNA and the city of Florence have developed a partnership with each other,” he said. “I believe that both groups understand that we all want what is best for the students and the city of Florence.

“However, it is important to realize that UNA will probably not go further downtown unless downtown Florence and the university agree that it would be beneficial for both parties.”

Abroms said he abstained from the vote because he owns part of the office next to Keystone.

“UNA likely will have misplaced those tenants, and they will likely seek other locations, one of which would be the building that I have part ownership of,” he said. “I am abstaining; I do like the project, though.”

Abroms said the building is still subject to final appraisal before the university purchases the building.

“(The purchase) cannot happen unless appraisal goes well,” he said. “We want to pay fair market value for the building. If the appraisal is lower than what we are offering, we will have to negotiate with the owner.”