Northern Arizona University will begin making preparations to use South Beaver Elementary School as transitional “swing space” after Flagstaff Unified School District last week approved leasing the property to the university.

The district closed the school this summer as a budget-saving measure, and NAU expressed an interest in renting the space to help accommodate classrooms, faculty and staff that will be temporarily displaced during upcoming construction on the university’s Liberal Arts building. The SPEED-funded Liberal Arts project will begin in December to address fire and life safety issues—including flooring, lighting, roof replacement, fire sprinkler system and mechanical and electrical system upgrades—and to upgrade classroom space.

Jane Kuhn, interim chief facilities officer for Capital Assets, said NAU hopes to begin moving people into the swing space by December. Because the building is on the city’s historical register, significant renovations are not allowed, she explained.

She also indicated the possibility that some athletics staff may temporarily occupy the swing space when construction on the Skydome begins in December, closing that facility for about nine months.

Both projects are being funded by SPEED—the federal Stimulus Plan for Economic and Educational Development. Arizona Lottery revenues will fund 80 percent of the SPEED debt service, and the university will pay 20 percent. Northern Arizona University would pay interest only on the projects for five years.

The Skydome and the Liberal Arts building are expected to re-open in August 2011.