Construction is poised to begin this fall for the long-awaited Lone Star College-Magnolia Center, a satellite campus of LSC-Montgomery, to be located near FM 1486 and FM 1774, LSC-Montgomery President Rebecca Riley said in a report to the Magnolia ISD board of trustees May 14.
“It’s been an adventure. It’s been one hurdle after another but ... I believe we are in the home stretch here," she said.
Funded by a 2014 LSCS bond referendum approved by voters, Riley said the project has a budget of $25.6 million.
Lone Star College System officials previously announced the purchase of land at FM 1486 and FM 1774 in January 2019 for the proposed LSC-Magnolia Center, but Riley said in a February 2020 interview the site for LSC-Magnolia Center was then uncertain following a Texas Department of Transportation decision to construct a roadway cutting through the property that had been purchased, Community Impact Newspaper reported.
Riley said May 14 the college system has closed on additional property—previously slated as part of a housing development—adjacent to the original tract purchased. The new land will allow space for a 50,000-square-foot center and appropriate parking, she said.
"We will be repurposing or selling some of the original tract depending on where the final road construction actually takes place," Riley said.
Riley said with construction likely beginning this fall on the center, the project will take 18 months to complete and be finished in time for the fall 2023 semester.
“We look forward to it opening. I know that’s something the community has talked about a long time," MISD President Chuck Adcox said during the May 14 trustee meeting.
While LSC-Montgomery held listening sessions in the community two years ago to determine what programs the new center will offer, Riley said listening sessions will again be held with local stakeholders.
“One of the things you all voiced your support for was a STEM or engineering focus in the building, so that is still a strong possibility," Riley said. "Because so much has happened in the last two years that changes how we go about going to school, our businesses, employment opportunities, we will probably start our listening sessions again just to kind of validate what we learned before or introduce something new that we think it’s important for us to consider as we determine the use of space in that building.”
In addition to classroom space, Riley said the center will also feature a community meeting room as well as potential outdoor learning spaces and walking trails to draw on the natural features of the site, including wooded areas and a lake. Additionally, Riley said the site will also include food service, such as possible food trucks, and wireless connectivity so students can study outside the classroom and building.
Riley also said she intends the LSC-Magnolia Center to allow LSCS to partner further with Texas A&M University.
"We hope the Magnolia Center will ease transfer in that area," she said. “Above all we want to serve the community and expand access in the Magnolia community to more educational resources, particularly higher education. ... We want to promote partnerships with the high schools and the universities.”
While specific programs have not yet been determined for the space, Riley said the center will include a mix of for-credit courses as well as continuing education for adults. The center will also include space to expand.
“Obviously we are planning for future growth," she said. "This is a rapidly developing area in our service area, and we want to build a cost-effective facility that also is sited on the location so we can build for future growth as we need to as well.”