Cal State East Bay to replace its hilltop highrise

  • July 20, 2012

By Blanca Torres
Staff Reporter

Officials from California State University East Bay have a three-year process to tear down and replace Warren Hall  — one of the most distinctive buildings on the Hayward campus.

The school has selected Phoenix-based Sundt Construction and Irvine-based LPA Inc. to build and design a $50 million, 67,000-square-foot building on the prominent hillside site. It will house university administrative operations and faculty offices for about 200 employees.

The existing 13-story building, built in 1971, does not meet current seismic standards and has been vacant for about a year.

“We looked at retrofitting it, but with a tall building like that, it would be prohibitively expensive,” said Jim Zavagno, the university’s associate vice president for facilities development and operations.

For several years the school planned to remove about five stories from the top of the existing building, which contains 140,000 square feet of space, and then retrofit the remaining eight.

As part of that plan, the school built a $32 million, 100,000-square-foot administrative building that was completed in 2009.

School officials since scrapped the idea of chopping off a portion of the building and decided to build from the ground up, Zavagno said.

Sundt expects to start demolishing the existing Warren Hall in about six months and begin construction on the new building next summer with a completion date of March 2015.

The design for the building is still in the works, but it will likely be a four-story structure.

Sundt built CSU East Bay’s new recreation center that was finished last year. The contractor is also working on a $42 million renovation of the Spartan Complex, a student activities building at San Jose State University, and a $50 million student center at Sonoma State University.

Most of the firm’s current projects at universities involve revenue-generating facilities such as student centers, recreation centers and housing, according to Sundt vice president Teri Jones.

“Some projects have been delayed due to budget constraints, but there is still pretty good flow of projects,” Jones said. “If schools can collect fees for usage of facilities, it’s a lot easier to get them built.”

In recent years, CSU East Bay has added several hundred beds of on-campus housing as it shifts from a commuter school to more of a residential one. The school currently houses about 1,300 students, and intends to add up to 600 more beds.

Money for the Warren Hall project came from the state, Zavagno said, but it took several years for funding to become available. With more budget pressures on public universities, some projects will end up delayed or not happening at all.

“We continue to plan as if we’re going to get funded for lots of projects, but then you just stand in line,” Zavagno said. “We need to be prepared because we have a ton of needs.

Blanca Torres covers East Bay real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.

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