Ayres Associates

Environmental Impact Assessment
Northwest Quadrant Building A Demolition
DFDM Project # 17B10-02
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

Ayres prepared this Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on behalf of the Department of Administration Division of Facilities Development and Management (DOA/DFDM), University of Wisconsin System Administration (UWSA), and the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee (UWM) in compliance with the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (WEPA) per s. 1.11, Wis. Stats., and ch. NR 150, Wis. Adm. Code. The EIA evaluated potential environmental impacts associated with the demolition of NWQ Building A and will be used by the State of Wisconsin in making an informed decision in approving an estimated $6,000,000 to demolish the building. As required by WEPA, the EIA assessed potential impacts of the proposed action on the human and natural environment and reasonable alternatives.

Demolition of Building A is part of a series of renovations to the Northwest Quadrant (NWQ), formerly known as Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital. The NWQ renovation project will address critical life safety and building code upgrades to change the occupancy from institutional to business. Renovated space will serve as instruction, office, and support space for academic and administrative departments. The renovation scope includes building system upgrades to achieve an additional 20 to 30 years of useful life.

This EIA specifically addresses the demolition of NWQ Building A, which is not cost-feasible to renovate to meet code and functional requirements for the academic needs of the university and was studied extensively prior to reaching this decision. The current project budget will not support repairs needed to bring Building A up to current code, nor the additional cost to create program space in NWQ. Building A was built in sections from 1919 to 1969 and is the oldest building of the four initially intended for renovation. It is a 219,200 gross square foot (GSF) five-story masonry building with a lower level and a concrete superstructure.

The following elements were reviewed as part of the considerations to demolish the building and were summarized in the NWQ Building A Demolition Summary prepared in November 2019:

  • Functional obsolescence (does not meet operational needs for academic use)
  • Technical obsolescence (mechanical, electrical, plumbing and elevator systems are non-operational, unreliable or unsafe; building exterior envelope is deteriorating and costly to maintain)
  • Code compliance (building systems need replacement to bring up to code for a new use)
  • Mothballing costs (code improvement costs to allow for non-occupancy for an extended length of time was estimated at $3,000,000, plus annual costs for utilities, maintenance, and security of at least $232,000 per year)
  • On-going repair costs (on-going costs to maintain the mothballed building for structural and safety reasons are a continued drain on the budget)
  • Renovation feasibility (bringing the building into functional use is cost-prohibitive. In January 2020, Kahler Slater estimated the cost to renovate Building A to be approximately $96,500,000 in today’s dollars)
  • Demolition costs (technically feasible given utility protection obligation; total estimated cost of $6,000,000)
  • Alternative uses of space (if demolished, the removal of building A would provide additional open green space and a more welcome entrance to the remainder of the facility. In the future, a new modern academic building could occupy this site)
  • Potential historical concerns (constructed in phases from 1919 to 1969, Building A is not on the National Register of Historic Places or State Register of Historic Places, nor is it designated as Milwaukee Local Historic Site or part of a Local Historic District. However, it has been determined by the Wisconsin Historical Society to be potentially eligible for future nomination)

Based on the above considerations, UWM, UW System, and DFDM determined that the demolition of Building A is a more cost-effective and prudent outcome, with the best future space planning outcomes for UWM students, faculty, staff, and the campus community. The total project cost, including demolition and restoration of the project site with green space, is estimated at $6,000,000 and will be funded using General Fund Supported Borrowing and cash. Demolition, abatement, and site restoration costs comprise approximately $3,350,000 of the total project budget. The remainder of the budget is allocated for utility tunnel upgrades and a new end closure for Building B.

The final EIA can be downloaded from the link below.

Ben Peotter, PE
Ayres Associates
5201 E. Terrace Drive, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53718

Click Here to View:
Scoping Letter (272 Kb, PDF)
Comment Form (82 Kb, Word file)
Final EIA Report (11.6 Mb, PDF)