With the Wisconsin state budget passing last night in both the House and the Assembly, renovations of both Memorial Union and Union South were approved, as well as a major University of Wisconsin Housing project. However, a planned addition of two residence halls in the Lakeshore area was nixed in the Assembly. The renovations will move ahead and be funded by revenue generated from UW Housing. UW improvements only need legislators’ approval. The budget includes a $87.7 million replacement of Union South, a $47.5 million renovation to the UW School of Human Ecology and $7.1 million to expand campus parking ramps. A $52 million renovation to the theater wing of Memorial Union was also approved, but will not be effective until July 2009. Another improvement includes the third and final renovation of Chadbourne Residential College and Barnard Hall, UW Director of University Housing Paul Evans said. Evans said the improvements will include an addition of a third elevator, additional bathrooms and new dens, study rooms and kitchenettes on each floor. “We think it’s a great update that will really extend the life of Chad, and make people glad about living there again,” Evans said. The budget has allocated $14.6 million for the renovations of the dorm. But a major disappointment in the new budget, Evans said, is the elimination of two new residence halls in the Lakeshore housing area. Evans said approval of the new resident halls was included in both the Senate and Gov. Jim Doyle’s budget, but added that the Assembly “negotiated out of it” after what he believed was successful lobbying from Steve Brown Apartments. “We’re obviously very, very disappointed about that — those buildings would have allowed us to be able to offer housing to all first-year students who wanted to live on campus,” Evans said. He added 700 freshmen were denied housing this year. Originally, Evans said UW Housing wanted to build new residence halls at the site of the old University Square, but Steve Brown Apartments lobbied against the approval and then bought the location after UW Housing was denied. “So we’re upset about that and feel bad about that, but we’re now kind of regrouping and working on ways to make another proposal and another request because that’s still very much our goal — to provide housing to all first-year students,” Evans said. Evans added UW Housing was not competing with the private apartment sector. “We think that we provide a unique service that isn’t provided by apartments,” Evans said. “Living in resident halls, in particular in that first year, is an important way to get acclimated to campus, to meet friends and those kinds of things.”

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