Demolition of the long-vacant University Apartments complex at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will begin next month, according to campus officials.
Jim Cahill, director of facilities and campus planning at UMass Amherst, said the $1.2 million project will raze the 37,000-square-foot structure, built as faculty housing in 1949, and replace it with a parking lot for faculty and staff. The apartments have been vacant for more than 15 years, he said, though a small section was used for office space.
The project will include removal and safe disposal of hazardous materials, such as lead paint and asbestos. The contractor, NASDI, LLC of Waltham, is already testing for hazardous materials at the site and developing a remediation plan. The designer for the project is Dietz Architects of Springfield, and university funds are paying for the project.
A 4,400-square-foot garage building used by some housing and residence life maintenance shops will also be taken down, said Cahill, and 1,000 feet of steam line connecting the complex to the campus distribution system will be removed. The steam line work will require the temporary relocation of some sections of the sidewalk along North Pleasant Street from Butterfield Terrace to Thatcher Road.
All of the materials from the building demolition, such as brick, cement, windows and metals, will be separated and recycled when possible, he said. The demolition is scheduled for completion in January.
Once the structures are removed, a 90-space parking lot will be placed at the site. “This is really going to help out the parking situation on the east side of campus, where we’re being squeezed,” said Cahill. The construction of the Integrated Sciences Building and a planned laboratory science building nearby are boosting demand for parking while also eliminating some spaces, he said. The site restoration is scheduled for completion in May.
The Minuteman Marching Band, which was using a small portion of the apartment building for offices, has been temporarily relocated to space in Arnold House previously used by the School of Nursing.
The housing and residence life operations have moved to the Physical Plant building, where they are sharing work space and equipment. “It’s a more efficient use of campus resources,” said Cahill.
Other savings will be realized from energy savings, he said, since the university will no longer have to supply electricity, hot water and steam to the complex.
The University Apartments were constructed during a post-World War II building boom when the GI Bill sent enrollment soaring and demand for on-campus housing also increased dramatically. Originally built as living quarters for new faculty, the 50-unit complex was built for $500,000 through bonds floated by an alumni organization, the University Building Association.
The complex later housed students with families, but was eventually closed when the buildings were determined to be no longer suitable as living quarters.