In 2012, New Mexico lawmakers appropriated $16 million to renovate the University of New Mexico’s aging chemistry building.
Three years later, just $6.6 million has been spent on the project and less than half the overall work is done, according to UNM officials.
Chris Vallejos, associate vice president for UNM Institutional Support Services, said that’s largely because of the challenges posed by remodeling a building that’s still in continuous use.
But he said the project is on track to finish in 2016, adding that the average time between a university receiving capital funds and finishing a project is between 2½ and 3 years.
“This particular project is taking a few months longer due to the building being occupied while remodeling takes place because there is no surge space to move occupants, and we must conduct classes, labs and research,” Vallejos told the Journal.
The renovation of Clark Hall, the UNM chemistry building, was among six projects listed as being “at risk” due to minimal or no activity in a recent Legislative Finance Committee report on capital outlay spending.
Other “at-risk” projects included a new Mora County courthouse, a road project near Aztec and demolition of the old Fort Bayard Medical Center.
The UNM chemistry building was constructed in 1951 and was added onto in the 1960s. Its outdated lab facilities have been a “stumbling block” in trying to recruit new faculty members and graduate students, according to a UNM document.
In addition to modernized lab facilities, other parts of the project include mechanical and electrical upgrades, and an improved heating and air conditioning system.