By CASEY NICCOLI
Amarillo College officials say the ongoing bond-funded Master Plan construction project is starting to blossom.
The completion of the Badger Central and bookstore are just a taste of things to come as AC’s phase one Master Plan continues to build.
“Our main goal is to have state-of-the art facilities for students and faculty, and to attract 17 to 18-year-old students to drive by and see a cool modern campus and not a tired, old, run-down building,” said Chris Sharp, vice president of business affairs.
In 2019, the college was awarded a voter-approved $89 million bond with a goal to change the face of AC by adding six major renovation and remodeling projects to be completed by 2023.
Rylee Glazner, a motion picture production major, says she’s looking forward to the completed makeover. “I feel that if the school looks modern it will communicate to myself and other students that what we learn here at AC will benefit us going forward, which is an attractive thing for younger students,” said Glazner.
The remodel of Russell Hall is set to be completed by the end of this year. Blue and gray alucobond panels will be added to the building’s façade to create a more contemporary look as it will soon serve as an entranceway to learning with new landscaping and a front door that’s visible from the street.
The Student Services Center will be moving into Russell Hall and updating their name to the Enrollment Center. The building will also house academic advising, financial aid, tutoring and testing— all moving in together in one convenient place.
“It’s kind of a one stop shopping for a new student,” said Danny Smith, Master Plan project manager.
Another phase one project expected to be completed over the summer is the gymnasium portion of the Carter Fitness Center, which will house the college’s new athletic teams in volleyball, baseball and in men’s and women’s cross-country running.
While baseball games will be held at Hodgetown Ballpark, the women’s volleyball games will be held at the new Carter Fitness Center facility.
“The gymnasium will be completed in late July, early August, so that we can have games,” said Smith. “The new part, the south end of it, will be completed in probably October or November.”
This facility will include four basketball courts, two volleyball courts, spectator stands, new locker rooms, larger restroom facilities, a spin class and a fitness area enclosed in glass that overlooks Memorial Park to the south, according to Smith.
Parking will get a little bit better for students once the Carter Fitness Center is completed as the architects have added 45-50 more spaces to run along the back of the building.
“I miss having more parking near Parcells Hall where my classes are. As of now I tend to park in Lot 6 which is a fairly long walk,” said Glazner.
Another remodel in process is the Innovation Outpost, an adult learning center located on the downtown campus. “It’s an adult school for all ages, which will house six or seven sprint classes and part of the facility will be used for helping current businesses grow and develop new products,” said Sharp.
Other construction in process are the new restroom facilities on the east and west campuses, as well as installing a new HVAC system on the Washington Street Campus.
The First Responders Center should start construction in mid to late summer. “It’s still in the design phase so we’re looking at a little bit of time before it gets underway,” said Smith.
Smith added that factors such as COVID-19 and rising costs of materials have made it harder to keep within that original budget, but there are plans to generate more funds, including an ongoing fundraising campaign with naming opportunities for both the Innovation Outpost and Carter Fitness Center.