Northeast Community College students will soon have a new space to gather, study and hang out on the Norfolk campus.
At their February meeting Thursday, members of the college’s board of governors authorized Northeast administration to negotiate a price for a student center renovation and addition project.
The guaranteed maximum price will not surpass $19,346,881, as per terms of a motion originated by the board’s facilities committee.
The approval is an important step forward in a project that’s been in the works for months, Northeast President Dr. Michael Chipps said.
“We’re really excited … our staff has been working on it for the last nine months to create an environment for 21st century students,” Chipps said. “It’s an exciting place and an exciting day.”
The project germinated in 2017 when a master site and facilities plan developed for Northeast indicated the Norfolk campus’ need of space for student study, academic support and student health, among other services, according to a Northeast press release.
The student center, which is located on the southeast end of the main Norfolk campus, will undergo renovations and expansion starting March 1 with construction expected to finish in the summer of 2020, said Jim Curry, Northeast spokesman.
The student center will become a centralized hub for student activity and will include a coffee shop, learning commons, technology services area, food service and dining hall, according to the press release.
The campus library and bookstore, among other services, will also be moved into the space, opening up areas in the college’s Maclay building, Library-Resource Center and the College Welcome Center. The facilities plan advised that the vacancies be repurposed for advising services, academic spaces and a larger event gathering space for campus activities.
The changes will create a hub in a new area of campus and make the area more pedestrian-friendly, Curry said.
The project will affect parking, especially while construction takes place. Parking spots on the north side of the student center will be converted to green space, and a new parking lot to open on another area of campus will make up for the lost parking spaces, Curry said.
The construction project aligns with the college’s Vision 2020 strategic plan, Chipps said in the press release.
“This student-centered facility will become the ‘living room’ of the Norfolk campus,” he said. “Through our Vision 2020 strategic plan that focuses on student success and access as its top goals, we are intentional in creating spaces that emanate a pedestrian-based, living-learning community ambiance.”