The University of Maine System board of trustees on Monday gave unanimous approval to the University of Southern Maine to enter into contract negotiations for a proposed $100 million career center and residence hall on the Portland campus.

“This is the largest single investment the University of Southern Maine has made in its history in terms of development,” said USM President Glenn Cummings. “It’s very exciting for us.”

Monday’s vote by trustees means the university can begin negotiating with Capstone Development Partners, the Alabama-based group selected to develop the project.

Work is expected to start over the summer with construction of the 577-bed dorm and student center to be complete by the fall of 2022.

The student housing proposal includes a mix of single occupancy rooms, studios and larger apartments with multiple bedrooms.

Materials presented to the board Monday estimate students would pay $800 to $1,200 per room per month, depending on the apartment type.

At the same time Monday the board also approved a $1.7 million project to expand the Wishcamper parking lot.

That project is expected to help replace about 160 parking spots that will be lost with the construction project, though it would not meet an expected increase in demand that would follow the addition of the first-ever student housing on the university’s Portland campus.

To meet that need, trustees Monday also considered the construction of an $11.9 million, 425-spot parking garage on Falmouth Street near Sullivan Gym.

No action was taken Monday on the parking garage, which would need to come back to the board but could still be completed by 2022, Cummings said.


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