To help grow its enrollment and revenue, Houston Community College is considering relocating its Northwest College Katy campus.

At the Nov. 28 special meeting, the HCC board of trustees discussed a prospectus to purchase a 24-acre tract of land to construct a 140,000-square-foot building near the University of Houston system’s new 46-acre Katy campus at the northeast corner of I-10 and Grand Parkway.

An exact location of the property HCC is considering to purchase was not disclosed, but the new building would allow enrollment to grow from a capacity of about 4,000 students to about 7,000 students—and maybe as high as 9,000 students—said Janice Evans, the HCC interim director of media management and public relations. The expansion would also allow the college to offer more programs and courses.

There are currently 4,004 students enrolled at the HCC Katy campus at 1550 Foxlake Drive, Houston, Evans said. The building is about 114,000 square feet, according to Harris County Appraisal District records.

If the purchase is approved, HCC plans to partner with the UH system to offer freshman- and sophomore-level classes to coincide with the junior- and senior-level courses offered by the UH system at the Katy campus. This partnership is currently under negotiation, HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado said.

HCC estimates the total cost of the project—including the land purchase, design services and construction—will be about $55 million, according to the presentation to the board at the meeting. The $55 million would be funded by the sale of HCC properties, a short-term bank loan and bonds as well as student tuition and fees.

If the purchase agreement is approved at the Dec. 5 board meeting, then HCC plans to do following, according to the presentation:

  • Purchase the land near the UH system campus in January.

  • Begin construction for a new building in December 2019 and move in students by June 2021.

  • Sell the Katy campus property on Foxlake by March 2020.

Reasons to relocate

The main reason HCC is considering building a new campus is because the HCC Katy campus on Foxlake is at capacity and needs updated science labs, Maldonado said at the meeting. A new campus will foster enrollment and revenue growth.

HCC expects enrollment to grow because demographics show Katy as an area for higher population growth than elsewhere in Greater Houston, according to the presentation. HCC expects revenue to grow because the college charges a higher tuition for students living in Katy because the area is not within HCC’s taxing district.

In fact, over the term of the project's related debt, 27 years, HCC expects to have incremental net cash inflows of $29 million and total net cash flow of $100 million, according to the presentation.

“This is an opportunity for us to expand enrollment besides the areas that we have right now and meet our vision while we're generating additional income that comes into HCC to help us with our operational expenses,” Maldonado said.

Opposition to the project

However, several board members expressed concern about the project, including the high cost and whether demand for HCC’s educational services does exist in west Houston. Board member Eva Loredo wanted more community partnerships, while board member Robert Glaser suggested the college lease a larger building in the Katy area instead of constructing a new facility.

One of the biggest concerns for board members was the fact that the Katy area is not part of HCC's taxing district, which levies a $0.100263 property tax. The Katy area is part of the HCC’s service area as set forth by the Texas Legislature, but Katy has not voted to become a part of HCC’s taxing district.

“If Katy wants to be annexed, I would run after every one of them and build them a campus in a heartbeat,” board member Dave Wilson said at the meeting. “But until they want to pay taxes and come to the table, I can’t see it.”

The HCC board of trustees is expected to vote to purchase the property for a new Katy campus at the next board meeting at 4 p.m. on Dec. 5 at the HCC Central Campus at 3100 Main St., Houston.