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Davis, California

Friday, July 30, 2021

Construction restarts on King Hall School of Law

After a temporary halt in construction due to funding challenges, building has resumed on UC Davis’s Martin Luther King Jr. Hall.

King Hall, which houses the UC Davis School of Law located on the southern edge of campus, has been undergoing construction since fall of 2007 as part of an expansion and renovation project, said Karl Mohr, assistant vice chancellor for Resource Management and Planning.

“The project has been long planned to modernize and expand [King Hall], which has been essentially unchanged since it opened in 1968,Mohr said.

The project’s budget is approximately $21.8 million with $17.8 million coming from the state and close to $4 million in gifts from private donors. It will renovate 22,000 square feet of existing space as well as expand the building by another 30,000.

Construction was put on hold last January after funding issues arose as a result of the state budget crisis.

“The project has bid successfully and was proceeding well within the approved budget when the state became unable to meet its obligations to provide funding,Mohr said.The campus halted construction at King Hall in order to protect the campus from the fiscal exposure that would result if state funds committed to the project were withheld indefinitely.

The passage of the state budget in late February, followed by news that the state treasurer would re-enter the general obligation bond market, allowed the university to resume construction on the law school this past March. However, the university is proceeding cautiously with expansion, as state funding for the project is still a matter in question.

“Construction on the project is active again under a phased resumption strategy,said Enrique Lavernia, provost and executive vice chancellor.We hope to hear from the state very soon about the ability of the project to continue beyond the current authorization.

This current strategy of phased resumption will allow the university to continue expansion of the building while ongoing funding issues are resolved, Mohr said.

“We are hopeful that the state will soon resume payments, but the state budget remains challenged,he said.This phased resumption strategy will provide a bridge until the state is able to resume funding the project. Once this phase of work is complete, we will have better information about the state’s financial position and can then determine the appropriate next steps.

Construction on the building has forced the closure of certain facilities within King Hall, but classes have continued as normal for the most part, said Kevin Johnson, dean of the UC Davis School of Law.

“[The law school] has been in session the entire time,Johnson said.The expansion project has been somewhat inconvenient for faculty and staff, but everyone has come together and hung in during the process.

The expansion has been temporarily halted while the law students take their final exams, but construction is expected to continue normally after that, Johnson said.

“We hope to complete the expansion part sometime in spring 2010 with renovation completed and ready for classes that fall,he said.

 

ERICA LEE can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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