University of Idaho narrows plan for president's home

The education board hears a proposal to demolish and rebuild the residence.

LEWISTON TRIBUNEOctober 19, 2013 

  • MEET THE FIVE FINALISTS

    You can still hear from three finalists for the U of I presidency when they visit Boise for open forums this month.

    James L. Applegate will speak on Oct. 23. Chuck Staben's forum is on Oct. 25. And Laurie Stenberg Nichols will be here on Oct. 30.

    Each forum runs from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Idaho Water Center, 322 E. Front St.

    Two finalists - Donald L. Birx and Jack Payne - visited Boise on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16, respectively.

LEWISTON - Whoever is selected as the next University of Idaho president will most likely get more than just a new address - they'll get a whole new house.

U of I Vice President for Finance and Administration Ron Smith presented members of the Idaho State Board of Education with a recommendation made by a presidential residence study committee during the board's meeting Thursday at Lewis-Clark State College. Smith and former U of I Foundation President Frances Ellsworth co-chaired the committee established by interim President Don Burnett in July to determine the best option for the house.

Smith said the committee recommended that the president's house be rebuilt at the same location on Nez Perce Drive, across from the U of I Golf Course.

"We'll just demolish the old one and put in a new one," Smith said after the meeting.

The seven-bedroom, five-bathroom residence was built in 1967 and is 6,200 square feet. Smith said the committee recommended a house with about 4,000 square feet of private dwelling space and 1,500 square feet for public events and gathering room. The total cost of the project was initially estimated at $1.38 million, but Smith said he thinks it will be less.

"We think it's going to be right at a million (dollars) now," he said.

U of I officials first approached the board with concerns about the house's aging infrastructure and inefficient layout at its meeting in June. In August, Board members approved $75,000 for the planning and design phase.

Smith told board members that the committee received submissions from 11 architects for the project, and narrowed it to an Idaho-based firm. Smith did not identify the architect because he said terms are still being negotiated.

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