SDCCD Nearing Completion

8/17/18 – Daily Transcript: SDCCD nearing completion on $1.6B of campus projects

By Thor Kamban Biberman
Photo courtesy of San Diego Community College District

The San Diego Community College District is the largest community college district in San Diego County to receive a perfect bond transparency score from the San Diego County Taxpayer's Education Foundation. The perfect score comes as the district, which consists of 100,000 annual students, is nearing the end of construction funded by the Proposition S and N bond programs. The taxpayer foundation's 2018 School Bond Transparency summary report concluded that the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) met all 25 categories in terms of availability and accessibility of public information on the bond programs.

The $1.55 billion combined Prop S and N construction bond programs have provided for state-of-the-art instructional and career training facilities, major renovations, and campus-wide infrastructure projects at City, Mesa and Miramar colleges, and at seven continuing education campuses. It marks the second time SDCCD received a perfect bond score from the taxpayers' panel. Ursula Kroemer, SDCCD outreach manager, said the last time her district received a perfect bond transparency score was in 2016.

"We got 24 out of 25 last year," Kroemer said, adding that the district might have received a perfect score in 2017 if it had submitted more paperwork. "We could improve in documentation," she said. The report section looks at whether bond program websites include member information, meeting agendas and materials, project lists, performance and financial audits, and committee bylaws information. The section looking at reports and audits evaluates whether the documents include program status, detailed information about the projects, expenditures by project and site, and project status.

"We are called out twice for best practices -- once as a good model for how to organize an oversight committee website, and also for having one of the most transparent oversight committees as a model of success for other districts," Kroemer said. SDCCD's bond projects include 36 new buildings, 18 major renovations, four expansion or additions, and approximately 60 infrastructure, parking, and public safety projects -- most of which have been completed. At City College, the renovation of the A, D and T buildings -- the largest bond project on campus -- is on target for a late September completion and will be open for the spring 2019 semester.

About $58 million is being spent at City College for the upgrade of the 52,000-square-foot "A" building that house student services, a replacement of the D Building roof, and the renovation of the "T" building. The work on the A building will create new space for business services, accounting, the Alumni Foundation, admissions, assessment, CalWorks, communications and public information, counseling, disability support programs, enrollment services, financial aid, mental health, peer mentoring, records, student health, transfer and career, as well as academic and classified senate, executive administration offices, common areas and associated support spaces.

The renovation of the "T" building involves 77,000 square feet, creating new homes for the engineering department and space for agriculture, technology incubators, child development, electricity, electronics, HVAC, machine technology, and manufacturing engineering technology. The deep canyon between the A and T buildings will be terraced and landscaped to allow for student travel along with new gathering and seating areas. A section of the A building will be removed to open up Schwartz Plaza to allow for access to the Student Success Center in the L Building as well as a main promenade running east/west along the A street corridor.

The site improvements are intended to open the "front door" of the northwest portion of the campus to the students and faculty who work and study throughout the buildings and spaces along the 16th Street corridor. The design/build team for the work at San Diego City College includes RJC Architects and Hensel Phelps Construction Co. Though separate, the City College jobs are grouped together as a single contract. The last project at City College is a planned Child Development Center, expected to get under way next March, and be complete by the end of 2019.

The Child Development Center, which will consist of approximately 10,000 square feet of building, will include new space for infant, toddler and preschool children; support spaces such as faculty offices, a kitchen, lobby/reception area and a faculty conference room. The project also will include approximately 14,000 square feet of age-appropriate playground space, equipment storage and a parking/dropoff area. The design/build team for the child development center has yet to be named but Domus Studio Architecture has drawn up some renderings of the project. It is tentatively slated for completion in December 2019 or January 2020.

At Mesa College, two projects are also expected to be completed this fall. The Center for Business & Technology will be completed in September, and the Fine Arts Building will finish construction in October. The $32.2 million design/build contract for the 57,800 gross-square-feet Center for Business & Technology will provide a home for Mesa's business, computer, and fashion design programs. The facility will include technology-rich classrooms, a case study-type classroom, computer laboratory classrooms, a fashion design laboratory, and faculty and staff space. The entry to the building will include a large video display wall.

The design-build team for the Center for Business & Technology is Balfour Beatty Construction and Gensler. The new Fine Arts building is being constructed within an existing building on campus, the former I-300 Building. It will be four-stories with 26,500 assignable square feet. It will provide modernized facilities and equipment for programs in drawing, painting, photography, sculpting and ceramics, and a new space for the Mesa Art Gallery. The design/build team includes Architects Hanna Gabriel Wells and general contractor C.W. Driver Inc.

Both the Business & Technology and Fine Arts buildings are slated to be open for the spring semester in January 2019. While the bond projects are winding down, SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll doesn't anticipate a new initiative anytime soon. "The San Diego Community College District has no plans for a new bond measure at this time," she said. "We are focusing on completing the existing bond program under Propositions S and N, and ensuring that our new facilities are properly maintained."

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