Local college pumps $24M into renovation plans

nicholas center

The college’s student center, Nicholas Center, will double in size. (Mike Platania)

Taking a cue from other nearby universities, a local community college is kicking off a multimillion-dollar construction project on its campus.

John Tyler Community College will begin work this summer on a $24 million renovation to its Bird Hall and Nicholas Center, two buildings on its Chester campus at 13101 Jefferson Davis Highway.

The Nicholas Center will be both renovated and expanded, with a 25,000-square-foot addition that will nearly double its size. Built in 1993, the building is a student center featuring a bookstore, fitness center, student lounge and the president’s office.

JTCC’s workforce development program, the Community College Workforce Alliance, will be housed in the center’s new addition, as well as a lab, conference room and additional classrooms.

The 37,000-square-foot Bird Hall, one of the college’s original structures, dating to 1966, will receive upgrades to make room for the school’s health sciences programs, a variety of labs, faculty offices and a student lounge area.

John Tyler is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony May 18 with plans to complete the renovations in time for its fall 2019 semester.

The upgrades were designed by Grimm + Parker Architects, with Donley’s Construction as the general contractor.

jtcc sign

JTCC’s Chester campus at 13101 Jefferson Davis Highway. (Mike Platania)

JTCC spokeswoman Holly Walker said the $24 million budget is subject to change and doesn’t include design work, furniture and inspection fees. Walker said funding for the project came from two main sources.

“The first is state funds approved through the General Assembly,” she said. “(And second is) the college’s local funds, which come from a variety of sources, including bookstore and café commission, student fees, and funds from the 10 localities served by the college.”

JTCC is a public community college and has guaranteed admissions agreements with all Virginia public colleges and universities and some private universities, including the University of Richmond.

The school also has a campus in Midlothian at 800 Charter Colony Parkway, near the intersection of North Woolridge Road and State Route 288.

JTCC has an annual enrollment of about 14,000 students, 55 percent of whom attend the Chester campus, according to the school.

Elsewhere in the local higher education scene, VCU and UR have been busy bolstering their campuses as well. In February, VCU purchased the Mansion 534 building for $3.5 million, and in March UR announced plans for a new $15 million basketball practice facility.

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