The University of Missouri-St. Louis believes the fastest and cheapest way to build a new facility to offer academic programs and house its award-winning public radio station in Grand Center may be through a lease-purchase arrangement with a private developer.

UMSL has issued a request for qualifications from developers interested in financing and building the 27,000-square-foot facility at 3651 Olive Street, adjacent to KETC (Channel 9) and in the heart of St. Louis’ art and entertainment district. One floor will be dedicated to academic and public activities, while two floors will support the operations of St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU.

“We believe a lease-purchase option may significantly lower the cost from our original projections,” UMSL Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Martin Leifeld said. “We’re confident – given today’s construction environment – that developers will seek this opportunity aggressively.”

Leifeld said that the factors pushing UMSL in this direction are:

•UMSL wants to begin construction while builders are discounting;

•Developers currently can apply for New Market Tax Credits, thereby reducing the project cost by as much as 25 percent.

UMSL has raised $5.2 million in gifts toward the facility. The university had set $10 million as its fundraising goal, but that number could be lowered if the lease-purchase option drives down the cost of the project as expected.

“There’s a window of opportunity to break ground in 2010,” Leifeld said. “We’re all excited to get going on this important project for UMSL and St. Louis.”

Sealed proposals are due to UMSL by 2 p.m. Nov. 12.

The largest university in the region, UMSL enrolls more than 16,500 students from 48 states and 62 countries and 50,000 additional students in non-credit continuing education programs. It employs more than 2,500 full-time and part-time faculty and staff and has more than 55,000 alumni living and working in the St. Louis region.

St. Louis Public Radio is a member-supported service of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The station, which broadcasts in HD on 90.7 and 90.7-2, reaches more than 2.4 million people in the bi-state area with a 100,000-watt signal.

The RFQ document is available for online viewing at:

Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel