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Valparaiso University peers into the future

Richard Lee takes close look pamphlet outlining Campus Master Plan during program Valparaiso University Thursday Sept. 20 2012. Lee is

Richard Lee takes a close look at a pamphlet outlining the Campus Master Plan during a program at Valparaiso University Thursday Sept. 20, 2012. Lee is former faculty member, retired after 32 years in the university's Christ College. University administration unveiled the 20 year-plan which will be used to guide future development decisions. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media

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Information on Valparaiso University’s 20-year master plan will be available Friday at www.valpo.edu.

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Updated: October 22, 2012 6:23AM



VALPARAISO — The Valparaiso University campus 20 years from now will feature a center focused on the Harre Union and the Chapel of the Resurrection, will have expanded northwest toward downtown, and will have many of its academic buildings in one area.

Those were just a few of the details unveiled Thursday when representatives from an architectural and planning firm presented a 20-year master plan for the university.

Noting “it’s an exciting time for the university,” VU President Mark Heckler said the last master plan was drafted in the 1980s and everything on that plan was done, hence the need for a new vision. The plan has neither a timeline nor a funding source.

The plan, which also includes a parking garage by the union, new and repurposed academic buildings, athletic facilities at the former Porter Hospital site, and improved student housing, has been divided into small projects for maximum flexibility, said Jon Hoffman, a planner with Smith Group JJR. That’s because there are two unknowns in the coming years.

“We know the university wants to grow by 50 percent enrollment growth, but we don’t know when that will occur,” he said, adding the other unknown is the funding stream.

Over time, the campus has pushed east in its development, away from downtown, Hoffman said. Many of those involved in the planning process, including members of the campus and the community, rallied to the idea of moving the campus back toward the city center.

A big push toward that goal came when the university purchased the former hospital site, an announcement VU, hospital and city officials announced just over a year ago. The hospital moved to its new home, at Indiana 49 and U.S. 6, on Aug. 25.

“There was a terrific opportunity when the old Porter Hospital site became available,” said Neal Kessler, another planner with Smith. “The university was able to purchase that, and it really helped us make the case to reach out toward the downtown area.”

The hospital’s old parking garage will remain, to provide parking for athletic events. LaPorte Avenue will remain open for the short term, but long-range plans call for closing a portion of the road. Plans also call for a wellness center and soccer fields.



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