A $100 million residence hall and student center project at the University of Southern Maine has been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak, with officials now looking at a soft opening in May 2023.

The project was originally scheduled to be finished by August 2022, but has been pushed back as the university reassesses finances and because of initial permitting delays, said USM Chief Operating Officer Nancy Griffin.

“We’re doing our due diligence in reviewing every project particularly in light of what has happened and what potentially could happen under COVID-19,” Griffin said. “We’re really excited about this project and deeply committed to it. It is a priority for the institution.”

She said the university is re-evaluating the cost of the student center portion of the project, which was originally estimated at $30 million.

Griffin, who provided an update on the project to the University of Maine System Board of Trustees’ Finance, Facilities and Technology Committee on Wednesday, said USM is looking at a smaller student center with Capstone Development Partners, the project developer, and has asked them to decrease the cost to around $25 million.

The new timeline for the project includes a soft opening in May 2023 and full opening of the 577-bed residence hall, the first student housing on USM’s Portland campus, and student center in the fall of 2023.

The university will also be conducting another market analysis assessing demand for student housing in the fall, but Griffin said she still anticipates being able to fill the dorm beds.

Short-term revenue losses from the coronavirus are estimated to be $20 million across the University of Maine System, with the bulk of that money coming from room and board reimbursements to students.

The system has also adjusted its budget timeline to allow university presidents to present updated budgets to the board in May, with a final budget approval likely in late June.

 

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