After a four-year slowdown due to the South Bay Corruption Scandal, construction at Southwestern College is picking up momentum.
Proposition R bond projects on the National City satellite campus are the furthest along.
“We are in the construction document phase,” said Prop R Bond Manager Mark Claussen. “Construction on (National City) is estimated to be next summer, (pending state review).”
SWC President Dr. Melinda Nish said the new building will be versatile.
“Everything that is going into that new building in National City is classrooms,” she said. “So it’s not just going to support dental hygiene and medical operations.”
Nish said the majority of new classroom spaces are science labs.
“Even if you’re not a dental hygiene student, there are a lot of students that are going to need biology, microbiology, chemistry — that’s going to be super important because long before the (Math, Science and Engineering building) is done, we’ll have those labs out there in National City,” she said.
Nish said she hopes it will be operational in either fall 2016 or spring 2017.
A wellness center and a parking structure are also in the works, but the location of the latter is still in discussion. Claussen said he is trying to put an infrastructure package together for review by January or February.
“What we’re trying to do is start construction (on the wellness center) probably as early as May or June,” he said.
Claussen said the parking structure would also house an emergency callbox and possibly a security office and information kiosk.
Governing Board Member Humberto Peraza expressed concern with the location of the parking structure. He said he did not like the idea of a parking garage at the front door of the campus.
Governing Board Member Tim Nader agreed.
“Looking at this map, it does look as if the parking structure rather than the performing arts center (would be) the face of the campus,” he said.
Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs Dr. Steven Crow said it would not be a distraction.
“I’ve had the opportunity to visit several campuses that have new parking structures and I didn’t even know they were parking structures,” he said. “So we’ll be working with the architect to make sure it would blend in with the surrounding buildings.”
Claussen said another possible concept would be to flip the buildings. Nader suggested a secondary function to the parking structure.
“Where I went to college, on top of some of the parking structures, there were playing fields,” he said. “I like the idea of using that additional space for something that is useful to students and the community.”
Nish said the location of the MSE building has already been decided. Making room is the challenge.
“As soon as we get that wellness center done, we can immediately (demolish) the gym and pools and start construction of the Math, Science and Engineering complex,” she said.
Claussen said he hopes to start demolition soon.
“We can’t do anything with that until we blow up the existing pools and the gym,” he said. “The plan right now, if we can get it done right, (is to) start the demolition of the existing pools as early as February of 2016.”