Watch our progress: Planning begins on bond projects

One month after voters overwhelmingly passed a $386 million bond referendum, Austin Community College is planning the next steps for renovation and construction.

“We recognize there are several critically needed projects, and we plan to move forward on all of them,” says Dr. Charles Cook, ACC executive vice president and provost. “Our top priorities are those that will impact the most students.”

Administrators, deans, and department chairs are working to further define priorities and develop timelines for relocating programs, employees, and students once renovations begin.

Projects are summarized below. ACC will keep students, faculty, staff, and the community informed about developments through the ACC website.

ACC Highland Phase II

Highland Phase II focuses on hands-on training facilities.

Phase II of the Highland Mall transformation focuses on hands-on training facilities for high-demand jobs. Projects include a creative media center to support several digital arts and fine arts programs, a culinary and hospitality center, and a health sciences center with a STEM simulator lab.

“With Highland enrollment already exceeding expectations, we’ve seen how beneficial the campus is to the community,” Cook says. “In Phase II, we’ll add state-of-the-art training facilities as well as spaces for programs that will lead to opportunities for students outside the classroom.”

ACC Highland also will feature a workforce innovation center — approximately 30,000 square feet of flexible space that will be outfitted to meet specific, yet evolving workforce needs. The center is expected to be a resource for local employers, as well as ACC’s school district partners.

Crews are evaluating portions of the mall for possible abatement, a standard practice for older structures. The mall will close for renovations; the college is working with departments, programs, and the remaining mall tenants regarding timelines. Current college spaces are not expected to be impacted.

Rio Grande renovations

Rio Grande Campus will undergo extensive remodeling.

At almost 100 years old, ACC’s historic Rio Grande Campus needs major repairs and renovations to replace outdated electrical, plumbing, ventilation, and other systems. Existing spaces also will be reconfigured to maximize efficiency.

“There will be a lot of planning and conversations in advance of the Rio Grande Campus renovations,” Cook says. Courses and programs at the campus will be relocated during remodeling; the college currently expects that to begin around summer 2016.

Leander Campus

A new Leander campus will serve one of the fastest growing areas in the region and relieve crowding at ACC’s Cypress Creek Campus. Initial campus capacity is expected to be about 2,000 students.

The campus primarily will offer general education courses and may include a computer learning lab similar to the ACCelerator, but on a smaller scale.

First-responders training center at Hays Campus

ACC is the area’s primary trainer of first responders. Possible features for the new Hays Campus training center include simulation labs for EMT students and a driving track, in addition to classroom space.

Workforce training center at Elgin Campus

The Elgin Campus workforce center will provide hands-on training facilities for ACC’s recently launched Veterinary Technology and Sustainable Agriculture programs.

Round Rock Campus expansion

A new general education building at Round Rock Campus will free space for health science needs.

Adding a 62,000-square-foot (estimated) general education building at Round Rock Campus will free space for expanded health sciences offerings and enrollment. Campus capacity is expected to increase to 6,200 students from 5,000 now. Additional parking and other improvements also are planned.

Land for career-technical center

The college will purchase land in southeast Travis County to develop a center for automotive, building construction, heating, air, and refrigeration, and welding technology education. These programs currently operate near or at capacity each semester.

Health, safety, and sustainability renovations

Facilities across the district will be renovated for health, safety, environmental sustainability, and technology improvements.

Other campus renovations

As programs relocate to new facilities, the college may adapt vacated spaces for specific campus needs. Â For example, moving the Digital Media Program to Highland Campus will free space at Northridge Campus that can be modified as needed.

“The benefits provided by these bond projects extend well beyond the new facilities,” Cook says.

Looking ahead

As the bond projects proceed, the college will look for ways to fund expanded programs and services without the revenue from the proposed maintenance & operations tax cap increase, which did not receive voter approval.

“Whether we look at downsizing certain initiatives, or we seek partners for additional support, we will find ways to offer the programs our students and the community want and need,” Cook says. “Looking ahead, we will continually seek ways to effectively support the infrastructure district taxpayers are helping us build.”


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