Bluegrass Community and Technical College celebrated its 75th anniversary Thursday with a pretty nice gift: a new campus in downtown Lexington.
The Newtown campus — at Fourth Street and Newtown Pike on the former site of Eastern State Hospital — has been offering classes in its $20 million instructional building for a year, but the campus officially opened Thursday with Gov. Steve Beshear, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr and plenty of other politicians and supporters in attendance.
"What a positive influence this is going to be on this whole area of Lexington," said Beshear, who also praised the complex land swap between state and local officials that led to the new campus. The state agreed to give the old Eastern State site to BCTC while building a new Eastern State at the University of Kentucky's Coldstream Research Campus.
Barr announced that the new classroom building recently was awarded LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The building includes motion detection controlled lights, sun shades on key windows, and permeable pavement in several parking areas.
The campus will incorporate some history from Eastern State, including its original administration building, which will house BCTC officials. The 1908 laundry, a cruciform building with an elevated roof, is slated to become a café or student center.
Transylvania University recently opened new playing fields next to the Newtown campus, and Montessori Middle School just opened at the former Florence Crittenton Home nearby.
BCTC enrolls some 18,000 students annually and provides training for business partners to more than 2,000 employees. It will continue to maintain a presence at its Cooper Drive campus, but that property eventually will be turned over to UK as part of the land swap.