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UW, business leaders urge approval of new chemistry building for Milwaukee campus

Education officials and leaders in Milwaukee’s business community want state authorities to approve funding to replace the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Chemistry Building.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed capital budget includes about $129.5 million to replace the 1972 structure at 3210 N. Cramer St. The project request for the 2019-2021 biennium is the No. 3 priority for the UW System and its top building priority.

A description of the project says the current facility is in poor condition and doesn’t comply with some building code requirements. Renovating the building would cost about 75 percent of the estimated price to construct a new space, according to the university.

Officials toured the building Thursday morning and met with media representatives to outline the need for a new facility. Among those present were UW System president Ray Cross, UW-Milwaukee chancellor Mark Mone, Greater Milwaukee Committee president Julia Taylor and Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce president Tim Sheehy.

Joe Aldstadt, an associate professor and the chair of UW-Milwaukee's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, joined Cross and Mone for the tour, explaining how the building is affecting his department’s instruction and research.

Noting chemistry’s ties to other industries, Cross said a new building is of critical importance.

“If we’re going to build Wisconsin’s economy tomorrow, we have to do some things today,” he said. “We can’t keep kicking this can down the road.”

Mone said a new building speaks to UW-Milwaukee's desire to invest in the potential of the university’s students and the state.

Taylor and Sheehy also voiced support for the capital budget request, citing chemistry’s place in Wisconsin’s economy.

Campus officials said the proposal would ideally be approved this summer; they named 2025 as a conservative estimate for completing the work.

The capital budget proposal requires the approval of the State Building Commission and Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature. Evers’ $2.5 billion capital spending proposal included about $177 million for projects at UW-Milwaukee, including $40.7 million to renovate the student union and $7 million for an addition at the Klotsche Center and Pavilion.

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