The Rockingham Community College Board of Trustees on July 16 approved the site for the college’s new Center for Workforce Development – and an extra $4 million for the project, bringing the budget to $19 million.
The 41,200-square-foot building will be constructed on 2.64 acres on Wrenn Memorial Road at the traffic triangle, across the street from the administration building. It is being funded by quarter-cent sales tax revenues, approved by Rockingham County voters in May 2018.
“This facility needs to be glamorous. (It) will enhance your community. It gets your businesses and industries excited about what’s going on inside the facility. It’s a recruitment tool. We want to walk in and have that wow factor,” said Phillip Steele, senior principal with ADW Architects, the Charlotte firm hired in December. “There’s a little bit more cost for that wow factor … a little bit more glass, a major corridor in the center. Think about this facility as the core to your campus to the outside industry.”
The architects analyzed nine sites, and a committee that was formed to help plan the project narrowed them down to three. The other two top contenders placed the facility at the front entrances of campus, along N.C. 65.
Steele said the proximity of the selected site to the advanced technology facilities will make it convenient for students to walk.
“We want to make this more of a collegiate-type of campus. We want to be a focal point as you’re coming onto campus with this beautiful facility,” he said.
The one-story facility will include 10,600 square feet for the machining program, 9,570 for the electrical systems program, and 4,600 for the industrial systems program.
Common areas take up 16,399 square feet – or 40 percent of the building – which includes a 200-seat auditorium, mechanical rooms, corridors, student breakout spaces, and more.
While a new parking lot will be laid, the site is adjacent to the parking lot across from the science building, in case overflow parking is needed during events.
Entering campus via Wrenn Memorial Road (across from the Governmental Center entrance), pine trees will be replaced with landscaping along right side, so the Center for Workforce Development will be visible from N.C. 65.
The architect also proposes to change the traffic triangle into a safer and less-cumbersome traffic circle.
Construction costs are $15.8 million, plus a state-required 3 percent contingency of $473,400. Programming and design fees total $1.5 million. Another $1 million is slated for furniture and equipment. Other costs totaling $174,000 include surveys, subsurface exploration, building commissioning, NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources plan review, bid advertisements, inspections, construction materials testing, moving, and fees for water, sewer and fire line connections.
July 2019 – Determine the needs of the three programs to be housed in the new facility
January 2020 – Schematic design phase completed
June 2020 – Design development completed
March 2021 – Final review of construction documents by state
April 2021 – County permit review
May 2021 – Bidding opens
August 2021 – Construction begins
October 2022 – Construction completed
December 2022 – RCC moves into building
“That seems like a long time, but once you start to work with these projects and understand all the committees and departments you have to meet with, it does take a long time,” Steele said. “And we want to do it right for the college. That’s the biggest thing. We want to have appropriate funds for the project, we don’t want to shortcut anything, and we want to make sure it’s a successful project for the college as well as the community.”
RCC President Dr. Mark Kinlaw told the trustees, “based on what we receive from the county, the debt service will be paid over 20 years at about a 4.5 percent rate. If you base it on those numbers, our repayment will be $6,327 per month per $1 million.
The original $15 million would have resulted in a repayment of $94,905 per month – or $1.138 million annually, Kinlaw said.
Borrowing a revised $19 million, the repayment is $120,213 per month – or $1.442 million annually.
“That’s about $304,000 per year more,” Kinlaw said. “The bottom line is, we are still projected to get about $1.8 million to $2 million per year (from sales tax revenue), but we think we would have somewhere close to $460,000 left over during that 20-year period to cover other building operational costs, other campus projects that we would want to do. Yes, going from $15 million to $19 million is going to impact that.”
He noted that the North Carolina Legislature is considering a state capital infrastructure fund, through which RCC could get close to $4.5 million over 10 years.
“And this is just speculating, but I would think that at some point there will be another bond package down the road during that debt service,” Kinlaw said.
“We would hope we don’t spend $19 million here. We hope we can get some Golden Leaf (grant) help for equipment, and there could be other cost savings as we go through (the project),” he said. “We felt like in talking with our architects that we’ve got a chance to do this really well and do it right, and I hate to not do it at a high level and regret it later.”