BCTC announces details of Newtown Pike campus

construction of first phase set to begin next march

ctruman@herald-leader.comMay 15, 2010 

  • Looking down the road a few years

The Bluegrass Community and Technical College unveiled on Friday its 20-year master plan for the BCTC Newtown Pike campus, on what is now the Eastern State Hospital site.

Construction on the first phase of the project, which will include a new 90,000-square-foot classroom building, is scheduled to begin in March 2011 and be completed in November 2012. The cost — an estimated $28.3 million — is already in the school's budget, and the college plans to begin classes there in January 2013.

A second phase, to include three buildings and campus amenities, will cost $100 million. BCTC president Augusta Julian said that the school hopes the project will be funded by the legislature in the 2012 session.

"We must continue to advocate for this exciting educational opportunity," she said.

Ultimately, plans are for the BCTC complex on Newtown Pike to include 14-17 buildings at a cost of more than $500 million.

In a land swap announced in 2008, Eastern State, one of the nation's oldest hospitals, agreed to move its campus on Newtown Pike to the University of Kentucky's Coldstream Research Campus and build a new $130 million mental hospital. As part of the agreement, BCTC said it would move from UK's Lexington campus on Cooper Drive to Eastern State's location.

Lawmakers are currently at an impasse over the governor's budget, which includes funding for the Eastern State building. They will return to Frankfort May 24 to consider a compromise budget proposal.

College and city leaders touted the importance of building the new campus, which they said will be environmentally friendly and a likely economic spur for additional development for the area bounded by Newtown Pike, Loudon Avenue and West Fourth Street.

Architect Martha Tarrant of Ross Tarrant Architects, one of the firms working on the first phase of the development, said that several buildings on the Eastern site will be renovated. They include the administration building and an architecturally significant 1906 "laundry" building.

"Imagine what this site, this 48 acres, will look like," filled with buildings, students and the pedestrian traffic anticipated nearby development will bring, said Michael McCall, president and chief executive officer of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. KCTCS is the umbrella body that oversees Kentucky's network of community colleges.

"It really establishes what will happen (in) 50 years, 100 years," McCall said.

'Once a century'

The Newtown Pike campus development does not mean that BCTC will stop having classes at the Cooper Drive campus in the near future, but rather that BCTC will operate in various locations, including on Cooper Drive, Newtown Pike, and at its complex off Leestown Road.

BCTC had 13,378 students in the fall of 2009, mainly from Fayette and surrounding counties. Fifty-two percent of them are part-time students.

Frank Butler, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the University of Kentucky, said that UK has no immediate plans for the land now occupied by the BCTC Cooper Drive facility.

Until 2004, the University of Kentucky held jurisdiction over what was formerly called Lexington Community College. Then the UK Board of Trustees voted to cut it loose to join the rest of the state community college system.

Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry called the BCTC 20-year plan "one of those landmark things that happens to Lexington ... maybe once in a century."

"Today, we're talking about something that 100 years from now, people will know the difference," Newberry said.

Adam Edelen, chief of staff for Governor Steve Beshear, said the new campus will be "a monument to what happens when government gets it right."

Closer to Transy

Many of the civic and education leaders at Friday's briefing described the Newtown Pike campus as part of an education triangle they think will spur a renaissance of business and residential development in the area, which is closer to interstate access than the Cooper Drive location.

BCTC operates other sites, including on Regency Road and High Street in Lexington, and in Danville, Lawrenceburg, Winchester, Georgetown and Lancaster.

Still, the beginning of the Newtown Pike campus building process assures that a big chunk of BCTC will eventually move away from the main campus of the University of Kentucky and closer to Transylvania University, which is on North Broadway.

"The Transylvania community is excited about having BCTC as our new neighbor," said Transylvania president Charles Shearer.

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