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Construction is booming at local colleges, universities

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By Katie Piccirillo Sherman. UNC Charlotte has launched a $200 million capital campaign, the largest in its history.

The “Exponential” campaign will fund new buildings and renovate existing structures.

Colleges coast to coast are breaking ground on state-of-the-art facilities.

Vicki Saville, Central Piedmont Community College’s associate vice president for construction, says CPCC enrollment has grown 37 percent since 2006. The state’s standard requires 100 square feet of instructional space per full time student. Prior to Mecklenburg County’s 2013 bond referendum, CPCC had only 58 square feet of instructional space, some of it aging “energy hogs.”

“The way we build buildings today is more security-minded. They are more sight line and wayfinding oriented. So, we found a lot of the older, 50-year-old buildings, needed to come down. We wanted to grow and we wanted to get rid of the buildings that were costing the taxpayers too much money,” Saville says.

Bond money approved by voters, as well as independent fundraising efforts, portend even more construction—at least $300 million locally.

RELATED: Zippia says two local schools are among best small colleges in NC

“Our building plans are driven by our academic plans,” spokesman Jeff Lowrance says. “When we look at adding programs and updating facilities, we base [our decision] on the local demand and talk to local employers. We built to help meet a local need.”

At UNC-Charlotte, the Levine Residence Hall alone is worth $49 million. Three other residence halls are currently being renovated to the tune of  $20 million. Meanwhile, two other major projects are in design, including a $64 million student health and wellness center and a $90 million science building. UNC-Charlotte’s overall five-year construction plan is worth more than $420 million.

At the Merancas Campus at Central Piedmont Community College in Huntersville, Rodgers Builders will break ground soon on a $3.7 million truck driving facility. But in 2018 a $27.5 million classroom and training facility gets under way with 90,000 square feet. ADW Architects and Rodgers Builders have the contract.

By 2017, Davidson College will complete two new renovations and two additions. The college is spending $15 million on the renovation of the Martin Chemistry Laboratory facing Concord Road. The Harry L. Vance Athletic Center, an enhancement of the Baker Sports Complex, was completed last year. The 50,000 square-foot space is valued at more than $13 million.

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s $17 million Cabarrus Advanced Technology Center will be built on two acres at the North Carolina Research Campus. Plans call for a large lecture hall, computer classrooms, study spaces, student lounge and labs. Construction on the 60,000 square foot building begins next year. A contractor has not been named.

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