Gateway Announces Next Steps Involving Urban Campus In Downtown Covington

Gateway Community and Technical College announced today it will seek the services of an architectural firm to create a comprehensive master plan for its rapidly growing Urban Campus in downtown Covington.

The new campus will replace an aging one in Covington/Park Hills with a combination of new buildings and rehabilitated existing facilities that will fit the character of the community and serve as a hub of economic and community development.

R. Richard Jordan, chairman of the Gateway board of directors and G. Edward Hughes, Gateway president and chief executive officer, revealed the formal master plan process at a public meeting updating the community on progress toward creating the Urban Campus.

The Gateway board has been working to develop an Urban Campus since the board was created in 2001, Jordan said. Our very first request for building funds contained a request for an urban campus. We have now recommitted ourselves as a board to this project by approving a six-year capital budget plan that seeks nearly $75 million to create a comprehensive Urban Campus. We are very serious about the critical importance of the Urban Campus.

Jordan noted that the Gateway board of directors had approved a new six-year building plan, which has been submitted to the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. In that plan, the board recommended $62.8 million to develop a comprehensive Urban Campus and $11.8 million for renovation of Gateways current Urban Center located in the former Two Rivers Middle School at 525 Scott Blvd.

We feel strongly that we must seek funding sufficient to replace our old campus on Amsterdam Road and to expand its size to meet the program needs of the community, Jordan said.

Dr. Hughes said the next step in the development of a comprehensive campus is to hire professionals who can help the college create a more detailed plan that can address the exact nature and scope of the programs and services to be offered at the campus. A Request for Proposals to develop the plan is being advertised.

We anticipate that a firm will be hired by March or April 2011 to assist the college and the community in developing the formal, comprehensive Urban Campus master plan that we will take to the Kentucky legislature, local and Federal government bodies as well as private donors to seek funding, Dr. Hughes added. We know this is a transformational project for the college and community, and we are very optimistic that we will succeed in acquiring the funding necessary to create a signature urban campus.

He said that the Urban Campus development will likely proceed in four stages and that the first involved the acquisition and minor renovations of the Two Rivers facility into the Urban Center. He noted that in just four semesters enrollment at the Urban Center has grown over 1,000 percent and that more than 850 students are now benefiting from the operation. Over 20 full-time faculty and staff are assigned to the center, and more will be added once the third floor becomes available this summer. Officials expect to exceed early projections of 1,500 students next year.

According to Dr. Hughes, Phase Two will involve the design and construction of new facilities, as well as the acquisition of property and renovation of existing facilities. We wont know the number and nature of buildings until the master plan is complete, but one anticipated new facility may be located adjacent to the Kenton County Public Library. We have talked about that possibility, and, if it occurs, it will be planned in conjunction with the librarys current renovation and expansion project, he said.

Phase Three will involve the relocation of programs and services from the Gateways current Amsterdam Road/Park Hills Campus and the disposition of the land. By law the proceeds from the sale must be returned to Gateway to support the development of the Urban Campus in Covington.

Phase Four will focus on the future acquisition of additional land and/or buildings for future building or parking needs for the Urban Campus as identified by the master campus plan.

The board is committed to doing all it can to make certain that the Urban Campus is built in this area where it can serve the greatest number of students and benefit the development of the entire urban part of the region, Jordan added. We believe the Scott Boulevard site is the right place, and, according to the input received this past year, so does the community.

Dr. Hughes added that Gateway, KCTCS and the Gateway Community and Technical College Foundation have invested $5.1 million in operating and capital funds to date in the Urban Campus project. The Campaign for Gateway is planning to raise at least $5 million for the project through a capital campaign now under way.

The Gateway CEO said progress to date on the Urban Campus is a reflection of community spirit and cooperation. Since 2009, when the project was first announced, many organizations have endorsed and provided assistance, including the Kenton County Public Library, Covington Independent Public Schools, Kenton County Fiscal Court, the City of Covington, the Center for Great Neighborhoods, Southbank Partners, Vision 2015, the Covington Business Council, Oasis, Inc., the Gateway Community and Technical College Foundation, and the community at large.

Gateway conducted seven public forums in 2010 to elicit input on physical aspects, programs and services the community would like to see in an Urban Campus. We have learned that everyone views this campus in a slightly different way, Dr. Hughes noted. In addition to being an educational project, it is also a boost for economic development, for retail growth, for the expansion and renovation of local housing. Gateway wants it to be all that and more.

Based on community input, Gateway is including a wide variety of programs and services in initial planning for the campus. They include new transfer programs to senior institutions; Business, Information Technology, Graphic Arts; Education, Early Child Development, Preservation Trades; Criminal Justice, Human Services, Cosmetology; Pre-engineering/Mechatronics, Energy Technology; Pre-allied health, Pre-nursing, Certified Nurse Aide training; a full range of adult education and student services; dual credit programs for urban school districts, specialized workforce training for urban businesses; and work programs including cooperative education and internships offered to students and area businesses.

The beauty of the process we have used is that at this point in the planning, virtually any program or service is possible and almost nothing is precluded from consideration, Dr. Hughes added.

Dr. Hughes said that in addition to developing the master plan, next steps include pursuing meetings with state legislators, Governor Beshear and the Federal delegation to secure support and funding; conducting additional stakeholder meetings with community groups and community leaders to develop greater details regarding parking, library services, expanded transportation and child care; and continuing to seek private support from individuals, corporations, foundations, civic organizations and businesses through the Campaign for Gateway.

Martin Butler also addressed the crowd and noted that the Urban Campus and Gateway have already made a huge impact in the lives of people in the region. He noted that the Butler Foundation created the Butler Family Urban Scholarship at Gateway to help people from the urban core attend college.

Gateway Instructor Anita Piner, who began her education as a student at the Urban Learning Center and who now teaches math at the college, also spoke at the event. She described her journey as a student and now a teacher and the positive impact Gateways Urban Center is having on people from the neighborhoods.

In 2009, we announced a goal to create a new Urban Campus in Covington. Today we are here to show the community the tremendous progress weve made and the bold goal we established together. If any community can rise to the occasion, it is this community, Dr. Hughes concluded.

For more information and to view a copy of the Second Annual Status Report, visit the college website at http://gateway.kctcs.edu/Visitors_and_Community/Urban_Campus_Project.