Lone Star College bond projects to break ground by early 2016

Lone Star College System could soon begin construction at the system’s North Harris and University Park campuses. Officials plan to break ground on several new projects by early 2016 with several construction dates set for the spring and summer.

The new facilities will help LSCS prepare students for high-demand fields, said Jimmy Martin, chief facilities and construction officer for LSC-North Harris

North Harris campus

Design is nearly completed on the planned Advanced Technology Workforce Center at the LSC-North Harris campus, Martin said. Construction on the $22 million facility is expected to begin in May. The 50,000-square-foot building is geared toward construction and skill trades.

The ATWC will mirror the size of the campus’s existing Applied Technology Center, providing a larger space for programs, such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration and the electrician department. The auto mechanic and welding programs will remain in the Applied Technology Center and use the added space when the HVAC program moves to its new site.

“We’re going to partner with industry partners to get new equipment,” Martin said. “We’ll be pushing the envelope on [the] latest and greatest. The community and businesses in the community have come to us with concerns about the skills of the workforce.”

The North Harris campus also received approval for a 400-space parking lot and a 60,000-square-foot instructional building. Both projects have been tabled as the community college monitors student population over the next few years, Martin said.

University Park campus

The most anticipated project at the LSC-University Park campus for President Shah Ardalan is the new 50,000-square-foot science and innovation building, which will break ground in late 2015 or early 2016. The building offers laboratory space for chemistry, biology and physics programs.

“The labs we have are in use from open to close,” Ardalan said. “We reached the point where we cannot offer [students] everything they need to complete a degree. These labs are the most critical need.”

As the founding president of the University Park campus, which started enrolling students in 2010, Ardalan has seen the rapid growth firsthand. Enrollment increased by
25 percent in 2014 and another 20 percent in 2015, passing 11,000 students.

Officials are also planning to renovate existing space into a much-needed student lounge area. Campus officials met with student leadership in September to come up with priorities for what students want the space to look like. Ardalan said he would bring their ideas to project architects.

“[Students] don’t have a real place to hang out between classes,” Ardalan said. “We have an idea of where it will be, but I want them to help design it.”

A handful of projects at all six Lone Star College campuses are being funded by a $485 million bond referendum passed in November 2014.

By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.