ENMU De Baca Hall, targeted for re-opening

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

De Baca Hall has long been the first impression of Eastern New Mexico University for people driving west on First Street — that’s not necessarily a good thing, according to ENMU officials.

ENMU administrators have included the De Baca renovation in a capital projects list to the New Mexico Higher Education Department so NMHED officials can see what funding requests will be for ENMU in the next five years.

Patrice Caldwell, executive director of Planning and Analysis for ENMU, said De Baca Hall, built in 1962, was closed in the early 1990s due to electrical problems. Caldwell said ENMU officials wanted to renovate it, however, the renovation of Eddy Hall addressed housing needs and there weren’t pressing student housing needs.

De Baca Hall stands next to U.S. 70, vacant and one of the most visible ENMU buildings. Caldwell said it’s not really a good first impression of ENMU.

“I hope we can restore it,” Caldwell said. “It’s in a wonderful location. It has beautiful rooms and beautiful murals on the third floor.”

Scott Smart, vice president of business affairs for ENMU, said the plumbing and electrical systems would need to be redone. The building is currently used for storage.

“I don’t see it being reopened as a residence hall,” Smart said. “More than likely it would be reopened for administrative offices and space.”
Smart said renovating De Baca into a new residence hall would require much more parking space which would mean acquiring land just for parking.

“At this time there is not an immediate need for student housing,” Smart said.

A reason for that is because ENMU will soon break ground on a new housing development to be constructed east of Eddy Hall which would add 270 beds to address student-housing needs. ENMU also offers student housing with West Campus, Eddy, Bernalillo and Roosevelt residence halls.

Caldwell said De Baca Hall has approximately 120 rooms and had the capacity to house more than 350 students. She said De Baca Hall was an all-female residence hall.

Smart said in September ENMU officials will make a formal presentation to NMHED officials regarding the capital projects. Included in the listing, is a request for $5.5 million to renovate De Baca, which is a request scheduled for the 2007-08 fiscal year.

ENMU administrators and regents would like to bring the building up to code by fixing the plumbing and electrical. The air-conditioning, electrical, plumbing and the building needs to be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.

Smart said the list of capital projects was narrowed down in June by ENMU staff. Regents approved the list in a June meeting. Smart said there are many factors which can hamper the proposed renovation like not receiving funding and alterations in the capital projects list.

Caldwell said discussions about renovating De Baca Hall have been ongoing since it was closed.