CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo.,
Sept. 19, 2003 – The Southeast Missouri State University Board of Regents today approved several measures concerning the development of the River Campus, including a grant application to be submitted to the Missouri Department of Transportation to obtain enhancement funding for construction of a new Affiliated Welcome Center on the River Campus property.
The application requests $1.08 million of the estimated cost of $1.35 million to construct the facility. The Board also approved $270,000 in local matching funds to be financed by the Southeast Missouri University Foundation. Southeast officials say they will recover this match via lease payments over 10 to 15 years, with interest.
The Cape Girardeau City Council on Monday endorsed the grant application. University officials say the Welcome Center will be leased to the Chamber of Commerce to house the staff of the Cape Girardeau Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), which will operate the center. The facility also will provide internship opportunities for students interested in pursuing careers in marketing, hospitality and related fields.
Plans call for the Affiliated Welcome Center to be located at the entrance to the River Campus, situated along the western edge of the River Campus property off the Fountain Street extension that will connect Route 74 and Morgan Oak Street. Ultimately, the Fountain Street extension will become the “front door” for the River Campus and the downtown area as vehicles enter Missouri from the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge on Route 74.
University officials say the Welcome Center will include a spacious lobby with a staffed information desk and display areas with information and brochures about regional and state attractions, events and accommodations. The center will provide friendly advice about the best places to visit in the region and around Missouri. According to the plans, there also will be a lobby connection to the main entry of the River Campus performance venues and the entrance to the Southeast Missouri Regional Museum to facilitate the circulation of visitors between the Welcome Center and the Museum, as well as the main lobby entry of the River Campus.
The facility is to be designed during the spring and summer of next year, with construction expected to begin in fall 2004. The building is to be completed in summer 2006, which coincides with the River Campus construction schedule.
In other River Campus related action, the Board approved a motion today requesting that the Southeast Missouri University Foundation transfer the title for the River Campus property to the University. Southeast officials say plans for the financing and construction of the project have reached the point at which the title to the property needs to be placed with the University before construction begins.