Grays Harbor College is asking the state to replace its 1950s-era Hillier Union Building that’s been a gathering spot for generations of students.
The college has submitted a plan to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, which develops a capital projects list to submit to the Legislature. The board will rank the project and that list will be submitted to lawmakers for consideration in the next legislative session, said Grays Harbor College President Ed Brewster. It’s expected that it will be built within the next four to six years, although there is the potential it could happen sooner, depending on when funding becomes available, he said.
“I’d be surprised if it gets funded in the next biennium … but, if it does, it’s great,” said Brewster, who added that the board is using a new ranking system and so it is more difficult to predict what will happen. The school submitted an application a few years ago when it was initially approved but held due to budget issues, and the college was told to resubmit.
The current building, known as the HUB, hosts a student center, cafeteria, a faculty and staff lounge, a welcome center, admissions and records, advising space, a bookstore and student government space — and so, it may not receive as much priority as buildings that are dedicated to classroom space, Brewster said. However, the college plans to add some general classroom space to the new building, as well as space for their newly developed food services instructional programs.
Vice President of Administrative Services Barbara McCullough, who has been overseeing the project, said the architect hired by the school to make estimates for the proposal has projected the new building will cost approximately $41 million, and will be 70,000 square feet — about the same size as the Gene Schermer Instructional Building currently being constructed.
The replacement of the Hillier Union Building is one of the college’s last major projects on their current facilities master plan. The most recent project from that plan is the construction of the $41.5 million Schermer building — a new home for science, engineering, technology, math, art and nursing classes. The college is looking to repurpose the 800 building, which is the current home for science and math classes at the college. That will cost about $527,000, said McCullough. It will house new general classroom space and potentially some student services. The college also has a request for an additional $236,000 for other “minor, small repair projects,” she said.
Brewster said there is nothing currently “wrong” with the HUB , but it needs replacement due to age.
“(There’s) not anything in particular, or specific, it’s just that it’s old and there are parts that are just worn,” he said.
Sam Luvisi: 360-537-3935 or firstname.lastname@example.org and @Dw_Sluvisi on Twitter