UMKC seeks millions from state for campus construction

The University of Missouri-Kansas City is looking for the state to ante up more than $95 million toward high-priority campus construction and building renovation projects.

On Friday, Curators approved making that request for funds along with requests for millions more in state money that would be used for 10 other building and renovation projects proposed by the three other UM System schools in Columbia, St. Louis and Rolla.

The requests are part of a long, systemwide capital improvement list that includes some projects that have been waiting on state dollars for years, said Bob Simmons, associate vice chancellor at UMKC.

Topping the list at UMKC is $48 million in state support for renovation work at the School of Medicine and a Health Science education building. The total cost of that project would be $54.5 million, with UMKC raising $6 million in private funds.

Lower priorities are a $20 million science education building, with more than three-quarters of that to come from the state; and a $30.6 million School of Dentistry building addition and renovation, with $23.8 million to be paid by the state.

In addition to the priority list, UMKC, under 2012 legislation in which the state offers to match the money a school raises for capital improvement, hopes to build a $15 million, three- or four-story Free Enterprise Center at Volker and Brookside boulevards.

UMKC officials said the university already has $7.5 million toward the building and hopes the state will kick in the other half.

Simmons said the university hopes to use this same legislation to get the state to put in half the money needed to build its proposed $88 million Downtown Campus for the Arts. UMKC already has raised half the money needed to request a state match.

For any of these proposed projects, “ultimately it is the legislature deciding what to fund.” Simmons said.

But Wayne Goode, who chairs the Board of Curators, said it has been nearly a decade since the state has allocated money toward capital improvements on any of the campuses.

“The system currently has a $1.3 billion backlog in renovation and repair,” according to a report in Friday’s curators’ meeting information.

Simmons estimates the need totals about $300 million at UMKC.

“Every building on this campus constructed before 1990 needs work, repairs and renovations,” Simmons said.