PHCC embarks on $60M, 2-county building boom

The community college has just begun a five-year expansion to meet demand.

Published July 13, 2007

Call summer lazy and hazy, but behind the scenes, there's a construction boom under way at Pasco-Hernando Community College.

Ground has been broken on a new, $8.6-million University Center to house classrooms and offices on the main campus in New Port Richey, both for the college and partner institutions such as the University of South Florida that offer classes at PHCC.

By next winter, shovels will be flying on two other projects: a $6-million renovation of the gymnasium into classrooms on the Brooksville campus, and the $44-million construction of a permanent Spring Hill Center off U.S. 19.

All told, the college has about $60-million committed to building new facilities and maintaining existing assets in the two counties, said Ken Burdzinski, vice president of administration and finance. And that's not counting the $58-million Wesley Chapel Center it hopes to build in several years.

- University Center - Site preparation has begun on a three-story building on the New Port Richey campus with classrooms, offices and a computer lab, as well as a second building with a 200-person conference center. The 34,000-square-foot center, scheduled for completion in July 2008, will serve general campus functions, as well as PHCC students attending classes with partner institutions, including USF, International College and St. Petersburg College.

- North Campus classrooms - Renovation of the gymnasium into classrooms and a large multipurpose space is scheduled to be completed by May 2009 on the Brooksville campus.

- Spring Hill Center - The recently completed master plan tentatively includes six buildings totaling 100,000 square feet. Construction will take place between 2008 and 2010 off U.S. 19 near Beverly Court, with an enrollment equivalent of about 520 full-time students. "It's probably going to be several thousand students" taking classes, double the current enrollment at the temporary Spring Hill Center, Burdzinski said.

- Wesley Chapel Center - No land or funding has yet been secured to build a new campus for the equivalent of 400 to 600 full-time students in central Pasco County. But the demand for a campus in that fast-growing region is clear, Burdzinski said. If plans for new hospital construction are realized, the center might specialize in health occupations.

The majority of new construction money is from the state Public Education Capital Outlay program, Burdzinski said.

"The fact that we're going to be building two new campuses over a five-year period, that's a once-in-a-lifetime event," he marveled. "Building two is something that's just extraordinary."

Tom Marshall can be reached at tmarshall@sptimes.com or 352 848-1431.