Monday, February 21, 2011

Gateway seeking $75M for expanded Covington campus

Gateway Community and Technical College announced last week its plans for the expansion of its Urban Campus in Downtown Covington.

The college will hire an architectural firm to create a comprehensive master plan to replace its aging four-building Covington/Park Hills (Amsterdam Road) campus with a mix of new and rehabilitated existing facilities on Scott Boulevard, between 3rd and 7th streets.

Gateway Board of Directors Chairman R. Richard Jordan and Gateway President and CEO G. Edward Hughes unveiled the plans during a public meeting held last Wednesday.

"The Gateway board has been working to develop an Urban Campus since the board was created in 2001," Jordan said. "Our very first request for building funds contained a request for an urban campus."

Jordan said that the board has approved a new six-year building plan, which has been submitted to the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. As part of the plan, the board recommended $62.8 million to develop the master plan and $11.8 million for the renovation of Gateway's current Urban Center at 525 Scott Boulevard.

"We have now recommitted ourselves as a board to this project by approving a six-year capital budget plan that seeks nearly $75 million to create a comprehensive Urban Campus," Jordan said. "We are very serious about the critical importance of the Urban Campus. We feel strongly that we must seek funding sufficient to replace our old campus on Amsterdam Road and to expand its size to meet the program needs of the community."

Multi-phased, multi-faceted

Seven public forums were held throughout 2010 to solicit input on physical aspects, programs, and services the community wanted for the Urban Campus.

"The board is committed to doing all it can to make certain that the Urban Campus is built in this area where it can serve the greatest number of students and benefit the development of the entire urban part of the region," Jordan said. "We believe the Scott Boulevard site is the right place, and, according to the input received this past year, so does the community."

The Urban Campus development will likely take place in four phases:

  • Phase One: Acquisition and minor renovations to the Urban Center at the former Two Rivers Middle School facility, 525 Scott Boulevard, which is underway;
  • Phase Two: Design and construction of new facilities, the acquisition of new property, and the renovation of existing facilities – including a new $25 million facility adjacent to the Kenton County Public Library;
  • Phase Three: Relocation of programs from the Amsterdam Road campus and disposition of the land, which will help fund the Urban Campus expansion;
  • Phase Four: Acquisition of additional land or buildings for future building or parking needs.
A wide variety of programs and services are being included in initial planning for the campus, including new transfer programs to senior institutions; Business, Information Technology, Graphic Arts; Education, Early Child Development, Preservation Trades; Criminal Justice, Human Services, Cosmetology; Pre-engineering/Mechatronics, Energy Technology; Pre-allied health, Pre-nursing, Certified Nurse Aide training; a full range of adult education and student services; dual credit programs for urban school districts; specialized workforce training for urban businesses; and cooperative education and internships offered to students and area businesses.

"In addition to being an educational project, it is also a boost for economic development, for retail growth, for the expansion and renovation of local housing," Hughes said. "Gateway wants it to be all that and more."

Funding key to growth

Hughes said that a request for proposals (RFP) for the comprehensive master plan is being advertised, with a firm to be hired by March or April. The master plan will be used to acquire additional state, federal, and private funding.

The Campaign for Gateway is planning to raise at least $5 million for the project through a capital campaign, already under way.

"We know this is a transformational project for the college and community, and we are very optimistic that we will succeed in acquiring the funding necessary to create a signature urban campus," Hughes said.

In just four semesters, enrollment at the Urban Center has grown over 1,000 percent, with more than 850 students and more than 20 full-time faculty and staff. Officials expect to exceed 1,500 students next year.

Early estimates are that a completed Urban Campus would exceed 250,000 square feet and could serve 5,000 students.

With locations in Boone County, Covington, and Edgewood, Gateway Community and Technical College enrolls nearly 4,800 students and offers associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates in 30 subject areas.

Aerial photo by Bing Maps