Local authorities voted Tuesday in favor of a major bond issue to fund several of Georgetown University’s long-term projects.

Members of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission unanimously approved the proposal, which would allow the university to issue $340 million of tax-exempt bonds. Nearly one-third of the proposed money would go to help fund the Southwest Quadrangle Project, according to Nicole Mandeville, vice president and treasurer of Financial Affairs for the university.

The other $225 million would fund various other university projects including deferred maintenance costs.

The bond issuance is partly a result of a $50 million fundraising initiative that will not be met in time to pay the university’s contractors for their work on the Southwest Quadrangle. According to Mandeville, Georgetown still expects to exceed its fundraising goals, which would allow the university to lower the final bond sales to around $300 million.

The bond proposal covers several other projects in addition to the Southwest Quadrangle, Mandeville said. The Law Center would receive a new academic building, a welcome center and an underground parking garage. The Medical Center would be renovated along with several main campus buildings such as the Leavey Center and university libraries. Student apartments would receive additional funding and the university’s technology infrastructure would be upgraded with the additional funds. Georgetown has already begun to refinance some of its previous debt.

Mandeville also said that Georgetown would use the funds to upgrade buildings on Wisconsin Avenue, which it purchased from the National Academy of Sciences last year. The university intends these primarily for administrative offices. The only academic program that could move to these buildings is a sector of the professional development certificate program. Mandeville stressed, however, that plans for the new buildings are only preliminary.

The next step in the bond issuance process is for several district government departments to review the university’s application. These include the Department of Economic Development and the Treasury Office. In addition, the university is required to give a public notice and conduct a public hearing about the plan, in accordance with federal tax law. Mandeville said a notice was sent to various news publications, including The Washington Post, on Jan. 22. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7, where citizens will have the opportunity to ask questions and issue five-minute statements concerning the bond proposal.

After the hearing, the university will seek review and approval by the D.C. Council and the Economic Development Committee, andeville said. If approved by these bodies, the university will prepare the bond documents for approval by the district’s bond council. After review by the Mayor and the Financial Control Board, the bonds can be sold on the market. Mandeville estimated the sale would begin in April.

Mandeville represented the university at the meeting. She said that Georgetown must go through a complicated process, dictated by the district as well as the federal government, in order to issue the bonds.

According to Mandeville, the university cannot put the bonds on the market directly, they must proceed through the district, which acts as the conduit issuance authority. This means, though the city government would be the authority issuing the bonds, the university would be solely responsible for repayment. Mandeville also emphasized that the city would incur no liability under the bond proposal.

The university would have full legal responsibility for the bond sales and, in fact, the district would benefit, collecting a program fee of approximately $1.5 million.

Georgetown submitted an application to the city government shortly after Christmas.

Another issue of note at the meeting was the ongoing construction of the Southwest Quadrangle. Linda Greenan, the university’s assistant vice president for external relations, addressed concerns about the construction procedure. She explained that the project requires the excavation of approximately 300,000 cubic yards of dirt, which is 10 times the average construction project. In addition, blasting has been necessary to break of layers of rock in the western part of the site.

In response to concerns of Georgetown’s neighbors, Greenan said that workers will not be permitted to begin construction before 7 a.m. In addition, truck drivers, who make approximately 200-230 trips per day, are being held to a zero-tolerance policy with regard to traffic violations.

Greenan said that peak time for the excavation will end in April and that the whole excavation process is scheduled to conclude in July, 2001.

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