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HEPC allows WV State University housing project to continue

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West Virginia State University is set to get new student housing for the first time since 1968.

The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission on June 25 unanimously approved a motion to proceed with the project, slated to begin in August.

Ed Magee, an HEPC staff member, said the HEPC on Dec. 7, 2012, authorized WVSU to proceed with the project. In the meantime, school officials had to comply with an eight-step process, including developing a land lease, hiring a design professional and developing a pro-forma financial statement.

"West Virginia State University has been working diligently to meet those requirements," Magee said. "The project is proceeding."

But the project must be completed quickly. Because of an uptick in enrollment, the 291-bed, suite-style housing project needs to be finished and open to students before the 2014 academic year begins.

"We have a critical time element in place that it really needs to be complete by the time school starts in September 2014," Magee said.

Brian Hemphill, president of WVSU, said the project has received approval from both the West Virginia State University Board of Governors and West Virginia State University Foundation, which will own the building and lease it back to the university. Hemphill said a comprehensive market study supports the financial aspect of the project.

"At this part point, we are at the stage where we really are in some of the final details of the finances," Hemphill said.

"This is a project we're excited about," he added. "We truly feel it is a game changer for us on multiple levels for our university."

The project will allow the university to remove two old, deteriorating buildings.