GUEST COMMENTARY: Demolished campus buildings are a wasted housing resource | Guest Commentaries


Rumor has it that MU officers will shortly paint every of the columns on the Francis Quadrangle with a substantial character (one left blank) to spell out “MU INC.”

These kinds of branding would be unsurprising specified their inclination to satisfy the agenda of economic elites, willingness to contribute to weather disruption and overlook urgent community human requires.

The combine of unappealing priorities, exemplified by ideas underway to shutter and/or demolish up to 13 campus properties in coming months, could be compassionately and to some degree offset if MU leaders would halt the destruction of a couple of buildings and donate or lease them to give cost-effective housing for some of the hundreds of people presently homeless in Columbia.

MU officers have given that extra 3 far more — Waters and Crowder halls, furthermore McKee Gymnasium, to the listing.

Losing these public methods borders on prison neglect when looking at the possibly preventable fatalities of our unhoused kin. The Columbia Day-to-day Tribune described on Dec. 23, for occasion, a candlelight vigil mourning at least 10 homeless people identified to have died in excess of the earlier yr on Columbia streets or in hospitals thanks to health and fitness troubles or other situations.

Two MU properties slated for demolition, the Skilled Creating on University Avenue and Manor Residence on Hitt Street, would feel specially effectively-suited for cost-effective housing as they ended up initially apartment properties.

The college acquired Manor Residence in 1996. Its 78 apartments have considering that been utilized as university student housing, but it is established for demolition this summertime.

“No one from the college has approached me” about repurposing any of the MU structures,” Randy Cole, CEO of the Columbia Housing Authority, explained to me Thursday, incorporating that he’d be glad to have inspectors check out the structures for possible upcoming use.

“My doorway is generally open to a discussion about economical housing,” he reported.

Even so, later that working day, an administrator with the UMC Board of Curators confident me that all solutions to demolition have been considered.

MU spokespeople contended last calendar year that the house reduction strategy and the demolition are “expected to preserve the university $2.5 million each year in working fees and almost $94 million in repairs and routine maintenance charges.”

The cold reality is that our point out govt has not sufficiently funded the university system in modern years.

Dramatic alter to the higher schooling budget took place soon after the 2016 election. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch claimed the following January that newly elected “Gov. Eric Greitens announced funding withholds to all general public schools, adopted by a dip in point out funding for the current price range 12 months and eventually, a lot more withholds.”

Maybe not coincidentally, the curators commenced speaking about ideas about that time to develop what turned the Roy Blunt NextGen Precision Health creating.

The facility, named after Missouri’s retiring U.S. senator, charge additional than $220 million and opened formally in October.

A KOMU report Oct. 18 pointed out that “university officers explained they were hoping for $150 million from the condition, and millions much more in donations. But considerably of that cash never ever materialized, and in the conclude the college experienced to borrow the necessary hard cash,” with tens of hundreds of thousands of pounds extra in fascination included to the remaining bill.

The building and its funding begs the problem: Have MU officials felt compelled to get drastic steps, this kind of as demolishing campus properties, to support offset these kinds of debt?

The ecological impacts of these kinds of demolitions are also reprehensible, particularly specified escalating local weather disruption. Environmental Magazine’s February 2020 challenge notes: The normal making demolition provides 155 kilos of squander per square foot, resulting in overflowing landfills, deteriorating ecosystems and the reduction of worthwhile sources.”

Contemplate Manor Household. The 59,143-sq.-foot apartment building, demolished, would make additional than 9 million pounds or 4,583 tons of waste.

When structures are demolished, the journal posting carries on, “all the electricity embedded in them is also misplaced,” including the “mining and producing of components and tools,” their transportation to the web-site as well as the human labor.

Be sure to share your problems and encourage MU officers to do the job with the CHA and/or other entities to spare at minimum a couple of structures from demolition for economical housing.

Jeff Stack is coordinator of the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation.

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