Ten years of updates, renovations underway

construction worker measuring

By Lauren Ebben Senior Reporter

Amarillo College officials have rolled out the timeline for phase one of the master plan for renovations. The master plan is a collection of projects and initiatives for all seven AC campuses identified throughout a yearlong planning process.

There are three phases of the master plan to be completed over a 10-year period. Phase one began this past June and will finish at the end of 2022.     There are a total of 26 projects in phase one, spanning the Downtown, East, West and Washington Street campuses of the college. Some of the longer projects will take about two years to complete.

Despite the number of renovations, students and staff “won’t feel a whole lot of it,” according to Vice President of Business Affairs, Steven Smith, who created the timeline for phase one.

“Most of the construction is inside already existing buildings. What they will feel is the services that may have been offered in those buildings being somewhere else,” Smith said.

Major projects in phase one include renovations to the Student Services Center, which will be broken up into sections so as not to completely disrupt operations. 

Another project is Russell Hall, which will also be used to house some services displaced by the renovations. Recently, the board of regents agreed to move renovations of the Carter Fitness Center from phase three to phase one. Renovations to the CFC include updates to the air conditioning, locker rooms, restrooms and showers.

Road and parking lot-related projects were planned for summer when  enrollment is lower. “We try to plan projects when it’s the easiest,” Smith said. “We’ll look at things as we go along.”

While most of these projects are renovations to current buildings, one project will require a completely new building. A first responders training facility, designed for police, fire and EMT training programs, will be located on East Campus, where a condemned building currently stands. “We’ll remove that building and we’ll build a whole new building,” Smith said. 

Another project in need of a new space is the Innovation Hub at the Downtown Campus. The innovation hub is a collaborative work space for students, community members, businesses and entrepreneurs to use to develop innovative ideas for any field.

Each of the 26 projects consists of at least four phases: an architect and procurement phase, a design phase, a bid phase and a construction phase. Some projects, such as the Innovation Hub and the updates to the Student Services Center, will also include an additional move-in phase.

Most projects are grouped together for contractors to bid on easily. For example, HVAC replacements on East, West and Washington Street Campus will be done by one contractor. 

“As a public entity, we can’t go pick a contractor,” Smith said. “We have to take bids and project proposals, and then make those decisions because we want everyone to have the same opportunities to bid on the work.”

Taking bids adds about two months to the projects and is a lot more involved than just contacting companies directly, according to Smith. 

“Amarillo has a lot of really good contractors and we’ll evaluate each of their applications and whether they’re qualified to do the job and whether they have good pricing for the college and make those decisions when we hire them,” Smith said.

In May, the $89.206 million bond was passed by the citizens of Amarillo to help fund the projects within master plan. There will be three to four bond issuances over the next ten years, depending on when projects fall. 

On Aug. 13, the first bond was issued at roughly $31 million dollars. The next issuance will not occur until 2023. Smith said the renovations could cause some issues. “We just need everyone to understand that we know that there will be some inconveniences,” he said. “We’re going to do our best to make sure that everyone knows when we’ve moved a service, where it’s at and how to find it so that people can locate the things they need to do.” 

He added that college officials want to “make sure that everything is done as efficiently and as cost effectively as we possibly can so that the projects are finished and people are able to utilize it and enjoy it as soon as possible.”

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