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Bond dollars helping Portland Community College build

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The following story was published in the Daily Journal of Commerce on January 3, 2014

Bond dollars helping Portland Community College build

POSTED: Friday, January 3, 2014 at 01:03 PM PT

Students at many Portland Community College locations will see big changes when they return on Monday.

Through Dec. 31, $234 million has been spent on projects at nine locations since voters approved a $374 million bond measure in 2008, according to the latest report from PCC. The bond has grown in value to $448 million via interest earnings and premiums on bond sales and other state and federal revenues, said Gina Whitehill-Baziuk, manager of stakeholder engagement and public involvement for the PCC Bond Program.

“Every campus has its own little nuance,” she said.

At the Southeast Center, the new Student Commons building opened this week. The campus also is gaining a new library and a major remodel of the historic 1911 German-American Society building. The $36 million project is doubling the size of the Southeast Center and is expected to serve as a catalyst for economic development in Southeast Portland.

“It is the college’s desire to serve the community in a way it has never been served before,” Whitehill-Baziuk said. “This will create a sense of place along 82nd Avenue.”

The three-story Student Commons building will provide space for students to register for classes, complete their financial aid documents, pay their bills and prepare for testing. The second floor has six classrooms and five science labs, which will allow the campus to integrate PCC’s new emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math, Whitehill-Baziuk said.

A new pedestrian mall on 82nd Avenue will create a more inviting campus area for the community with three leased retail spaces situated on the east side of the Student Commons building, Whitehill-Baziuk said. An expanded bookstore will open in February in the Student Commons building, and a new library is slated to open in April.

“What makes this expansion important is making the campus a full comprehensive campus,” she said. “In the past, students have had to go to the Sylvania campus or Cascade (campus) to get some of these classes and services.”

Connecting with the community also figured prominently at the Cascade c Campus, where Hoffman Construction Co. crews are building a $43.6 million development that includes a three-story academic building and an adjacent three-story student center. Both buildings will sit atop a single-level underground parking structure, said Derrick Beneville, Hoffman’s project manager. The parking structure and academic building will open by September and the student center building will be completed by January 2015, he said.

“It was a challenge because we had to do a one-story parking garage first,” he said. “As part of our outreach program, we made sure we wouldn’t impact any of our neighbors.”

Hoffman converted a former bar into its construction offices, which also are used for community meetings, Beneville said.

“Rather than putting up construction trailers that we usually use, we actually remodeled something that would be permanent and a better addition to the neighborhood,” he said.

Also, an existing greenbelt down the center of campus is being expanded. Together, the changes will rejuvenate the campus and improve its connection to the Killingsworth neighborhood, Beneville said.

At the Sylvania campus, also known as the “mother ship” of the PCC system, students will gain access to the lower part of the College Center mall for the start of winter term, said Jeff Ganz, project executive for Howard S. Wright Construction, the general contractor.

Modernization of the decades-old College Center building will make the student union more accessible, Ganz said. The bond is providing $49 million at the campus over six years for seismic upgrades, Americans with Disabilities Act improvements and other renovations, he said.

“The spiral staircase has gone away,” he said. “We have installed a glass exterior elevator and moved access to the far end. It is far easier than having to carry things up a spiral staircase.”

Crews also leveled floors, improved lighting and performed other improvements, Ganz said.

“Many of the HVAC systems were 30 to 40 years old,” he said. “They needed an upgrade.”

At the Rock Creek campus, $46 million has been dedicated to adding more than 89,000 square feet of space, and performing seismic upgrades and telecommunications upgrades, according to PCC. Fortis Construction Inc. is the general contractor.

New classrooms in Building 7 are slated for completion by April, and construction will begin in June on a Building 5 addition – including a cafeteria and space for student activities. A new student center under construction should open by January 2015, according to PCC.

At the Swan Island Center, construction started this past summer on the remodel of the old State Motor Pool building. When completed, the facility will provide more than 23,000 square feet of classroom and lab space for career technical education. JE Dunn Construction is the contractor.

PCC’S 2008 voter-approved $374 million bond program is increasing opportunities for residents to access quality, affordable higher education close to where they live and work. Additional classrooms, updated equipment and technology, and advanced workforce training programs are helping to pave the way for future employment options. For more information, visit


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