The Indiana State University board of trustees voted Friday to close Lincoln Quad residence hall at the end of the 2019-20 academic year and proceed with demolition.

The university over the past several years has added around 979 new beds in terms of housing capacity, particularly with the addition of Reeve Hall and 500 Wabash.

“Those facilities offer much better housing arrangements for our students and are more conducive to student learning,” Diann McKee, ISU senior vice president, explained after the meeting.

Also, private student housing developments near campus provide additional options for upper-level students.

“The demand for Lincoln Quad has been significantly reduced,” McKee said. “It has served the university well. But it is in need of a significant amount of re-investment to bring it up to what the expectations of our students may be today,” she said.

Lincoln Quad is 50 years old. A review committee looked at several factors this fall and explored the feasibility of continued use, but the recommendation was to close it, she said.

ISU has enough residence hall space to meet the housing needs of its students, she said.

She did not have a specific timeline for demolition.

Trustees authorized the administration to retain architectural and engineering services and eventually, to receive demolition and site restoration bids. The university also will request any necessary state approvals.

“This is a large facility ... so we want to make sure everything is studied from a demolition standpoint and also to prepare the appropriate construction documents that would be needed to bid the project,” McKee said.

Funding for the project would be from housing reserve funds.

Initially, the site likely will be a combination of green space and some limited parking, but no final decision has been made. The site would be available if ISU does need additional housing — or some other facility — in future years, McKee said.

The north half of Lincoln Quad is no longer being used, she noted. The 768-bed Lincoln Quad complex was built in 1969.

If ISU should need added housing capacity in the future, one option could be partnering with the private housing developments that have opened near campus, something IUPUI has done, she said.

ISU officials say that while the complex has been “carefully and routinely maintained, the original design of the structure, the age of the buildings and useful life expectancy of the building systems makes it one of the most challenging on-campus student housing facilities to maintain and operate.” Living and common space, exterior finishes and mechanical systems have exceeded their life-cycle and are in need of replacement.

A facility assessment conducted about 10 years ago estimated it would cost $55 million for a total renovation of the residence hall, McKee said in August. “Certainly the cost of construction has increased greatly.”

Among the facility challenges are that it has an open concept with a lot of entries and exits, which pose security challenges. Room sizes are smaller, and it has underground piping — part of a steam distribution system — that is difficult to repair.

The multi-level residence hall has a north half and south half joined by a central dining facility; it was constructed as apartment-like suites, with five students per suite.

The university will be working with greek groups that have space in Lincoln Quad to find a new location, said Andy Morgan, interim vice president of student affairs.

Among those sad to hear the news is Mike Smith of Linton, who lived in Lincoln Quad when it first opened in 1969.

“It was amazing,” he said. “The best thing was it had air conditioning.”

He wasn’t a partier, he said. “I was very backward ... and green to the world. It wasn’t about partying, but having a nice place to live.”

There were five students per suite, with three single bedrooms and one double, as well as a common living area.

He was sad to learn the news of its closing but has been reliving some of the memories, which include seeing gentlemen go in and out of what was believed to be a house of ill repute that was located nearby.

“We live in such a throwaway society these days,” Smith said. “It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that this building is 50 years old.”

In other matters:

•Trustees approved the health benefits plan for 2020, and there will be no increase in employee premiums. ISU has a self-insured health plan, with about $20 million in annual medical and prescription expenditures. The medical plan will continue to be administered by Anthem.

• McKee recognized Chief Joe Newport of the Indiana State University Police Department, who is retiring in December after 20 years at ISU.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or at Follow Sue on Twitter @TribStarSue.

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