IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa has signed a one-year lease for an Iowa City town house, where incoming President J. Bruce Harreld and his wife will live until workers complete $1.5 million in upgrades to the presidential residence at 102 Church St.
The lease will cost the university $2,000 a month — or $24,000 for the year — an expense UI spokeswoman Jeneane Beck said is less costly than a hotel and provides a small yard for the family dog.
Harreld, who begins his tenure as the university’s 21st president on Monday, will move into president’s residence once it’s ready, likely near the end of the spring semester. Regardless of when the Harrelds move out of the leased townhome, Beck said, UI will fulfill the lease and use the property as interim residence space for other faculty or administrators who may be starting at the university before finding a place to live.
She did not disclose the exact location of the townhome, but said the lease begins Sunday.
The traditional president’s residence on Church Street, which UI presidents have been required to live in since the Board of Regents passed a resolution in 1976, was built in 1908 for $25,067. Much of its space is used for universitywide events, and its second-story presidential apartment is about 1,300 square feet.
It has housed 13 presidents and undergone a series of renovations over the years, including one in 2003 that upgraded the kitchen to facilitate catering for large events, improved the heating and cooling systems, and replaced the single-car garage with a double.
Significant upgrades have not occurred since the 2003 renovation, and UI officials have said repairs now will prevent larger issues and more costly deferred maintenance in the future.
Still, according to a proposal for the project, the university is looking at a six-month construction window, which might restrict the scope of work.
“Overdue improvements related to access and security, HVAC systems, window replacements, and restrooms may have to be postponed if the schedule does not afford enough time for the work,” according to the proposal.
Before Harreld was chosen, the university had been planning to take on the upgrades during the presidential transition, as some phases would be challenging while the home was occupied.
Repairs to be completed include:
Leaks throughout the building, which are the result of failing plumbing, leaking gutters, and deteriorating mortar of brick joints;
Plaster and woodwork cracks caused by “inadequately controlled humidity ranges;”
Worn carpet as a result of high-volume foot traffic;
And improved insulation in ceilings and walls;
The university also had planned to upgrade the president’s office in Jessup Hall on the UI Pentacrest at a cost of between $750,000 and $900,000. But Harreld asked those renovations be put on hold, saying he can work with the space as is.
Rod Lehnertz, director of UI planning, design, and construction and interim senior vice president for finance and operations, said crews will advance some minor facets of the office, which has not seen significant upgrades since the building was built in 1924.
But all major changes will wait, he said.