Building BCTC's new campus may take 20 years

newtown campus may take 20 years to finish

ctruman@herald-leader.comOctober 20, 2010 

Bluegrass Community and Technical College president Augusta Julian on Tuesday presented the Urban County Council with plans for the college's Newtown Pike campus, but she acknowledged completion of those plans might take as long as 20 years because of the economy.

The initial stage of work on the 48-acre Newtown Pike site will include a $28.3 million, 90,000-square-foot classroom building, where classes would begin in 2013. The plan also projects renovation of some existing buildings for an additional 18,000 to 20,000 square feet of space.

The second phase of the development would cost $100 million. Julian said raising such a large amount of money would be difficult in the current economy.

The Newtown Pike campus of BCTC would be built in four phases, cost $500 million and include 14 to 17 buildings. It is the result of a land swap announced in 2008, in which Eastern State, one of the nation's oldest hospitals, agreed to move from Newtown Pike to the University of Kentucky's Coldstream Research campus and build a new mental hospital. Under the agreement, BCTC would move from UK's campus on Cooper Drive to Eastern State's location.

BCTC now has campuses on Cooper Drive, Leestown Road and Regency Road in Lexington; in Danville, Winchester and Lawrenceburg; and classes at centers in Lancaster and Georgetown.

Julian told the council BCTC's Leestown Road campus will remain open and that some classes may still be held at the Cooper Drive location even as much of the operation moves to Newtown Pike.

But the speed with which the Newtown Pike project develops hinges on money and legislative support.

"We have the funds for one building," Julian told the council. The economy will have to undergo a radical change before the legislature can come up with money for other buildings, she said.

In May, BCTC unveiled plans for the Newtown campus, which it hopes will spur development in neighborhoods bounded by Newtown Pike, Loudon Avenue and West Fourth Street.

Area leaders are scheduled to tour the site Wednesday.

In spite of the possibility of funding delays, council members remained optimistic about the plan.

"It's going to be an exciting project," said council member Linda Gorton, "and Newtown Pike will be transformed."

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