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INDIANAPOLIS — The State Budget Committee gave final approval Friday for Purdue University Northwest to build the long-sought Bioscience Innovation Building at its Hammond campus.

The $40.5 million, 68,000-square-foot structure will be home to offices, research labs and teaching labs for the College of Nursing, which currently are spread across several campus buildings, as well as the Department of Biological Sciences.

"This has been on our list of requests for more than a decade," said Tony Hahn, Purdue director of state relations. "The College of Nursing (is) one of our most popular programs at the Northwest campus, and in high demand in the northwest region of this state."

Approval by the State Budget Committee clears the way for construction to begin in August 2018, with completion scheduled for April 2020.

In April, Indiana lawmakers appropriated $35.1 million to erect what will be the first new classroom building at the Hammond campus since 1997. Purdue expects to use other university revenue and gift funds to cover the remainder of the cost.

The university's trustees gave their blessing to the project in August, followed by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education in September.

"This will be a transformative project at the Purdue Northwest Hammond campus," Hahn said.

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The new building will be immediately south of the Student Union and Library edifice and east of Lawshe Hall on land now used as a parking lot.

Once complete, Hahn said PNW plans to demolish the Gyte Annex, a 1953 structure donated to the university by Inland Steel that never was intended to be a classroom building and has been partially closed due to groundwater intrusion and plumbing issues.

"It will reduce our R and R (repair and rehabilitation) costs for that campus significantly by demolishing that building," he said.

State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, a member of the State Budget Committee, lauded her legislative and executive branch colleagues for seeing the many positive opportunities tied to the construction and opening of the Bioscience Innovation Building.

"For as long as I've been in the Legislature I have been hearing, 'Can you help us with this building?'" Tallian said. "Northwest Indiana thanks you that we get this project done — finally."

State Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, whose district includes the Purdue campus, said the building will be one of the "historic landmarks" in the university's history.

"Preparing students for nursing and life sciences careers in this state-of-the-art facility will enable them to find good-paying careers in our community while helping the Region benefit economically with the high-growth fields of life sciences and nursing," Lawson said.

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