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Sinclair moves forward with plan to improve campus

Trustees approve $2.4 million for architectural, engineering services

Sinclair Community College’s board of trustees has authorized spending $2.4 million for architectural and engineering services that will move forward the school’s plan to improve campus aesthetics and navigation.

Sinclair plans to invest more than $21 million on its 80-acre downtown campus over the next three years, including $10.6 million on a new student services center.

Other big-ticket items on the current campus master plan are a new entry gateway to campus ($2 million); a realignment of Fourth Street ($1.9 million); and three pedestrian pathways ($1.9 million).

RELATED: Sinclair invests $32 million in health care, UAS programs

Other parts of the plan, which will be carried out in two phases, include landscaping overhauls and updates to parking lots and garages.

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The projects aim to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly while improving its “visual appeal,” according to a Sinclair news release.

“An investment in our campus is an investment in our student experience,” Sinclair President Steve Johnson said.

The projects are part of Sinclair’s updated master plan that was approved in March 2013. Trustees approved a resolution Sept. 20 that allows for the proposed projects to move forward.

The college has about $42 million available for physical plant projects, but the board still needs to approve funds as well as a detailed plan before work begins, said Sinclair spokesman Adam Murka.

The $2.4 million approved by the board will not pay for construction, just for architectural and engineering services.

“These funds go toward detailed architectural plans, cost estimates and timelines, so our board will have all the information they need to approve a final construction project,” Murka said.

While the projects are intended to improve the college’s visual appeal, Murka said there has not been a “tremendous amount of emphasis” on changing the architecture of Sinclair’s buildings. The campus mostly consists of large, gray concrete structures.

Project phases

Plans call for the three-year project to take place in two phases, with more work possibly coming at a later date.

Phase 1 includes a new student services center and plaza, plus an entry gateway. The gateway, which would be located at the intersection of 4th and Perry streets, would serve as a designated “front door” to campus. Murka said Sinclair likely would draw inspiration from other gateways on other college campuses.

“We need a way to let (students) know they have arrived at the campus,” Murka said.

There are only four Phase 2 projects as opposed to the 12 detailed in initial phase. Phase 2 items include a new entry to Sinclair’s field house, costing $767,000; a new entry plaza for the Tartan market ($648,000); and improved green space ($571,000).

Long-range improvements not included in the three-year plan could include a $12 million advanced manufacturing center, a $7 million parking deck and a relocated bookstore ($3.6 million).

RELATED: Sinclair supports allowing community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees

Sinclair is in the process of renovating its Health Sciences Center, which is on track to be ready for students in fall 2017, Murka said.

That building has a renovations budget of $31.5 million. The project will add 59,000 square feet and will allow Sinclair to consolidate health sciences classes that are held in several different buildings on campus.

Connecting downtown

Improvements to Sinclair’s campus will seek to make “the amenities of downtown Dayton” more accessible to students, according to the college.

“There’s a lot happening downtown and there’s an opportunity for our students to participate,” Murka said.

Sinclair has been working with the Downtown Dayton Partnership to better connect the campus and neighboring cityscape. The upcoming changes to Sinclair’s campus will be “mutually beneficial” as students will “bring more vibrancy,” with them as they explore the downtown area, said Sandy Gudorf, president of the partnership.

“We’ve been talking with them in the first phase and we’re excited,” Gudorf said. “I think it’s a really good thing.”

Better connecting the campus to the rest of downtown with paths and a gateway makes sense because “Sinclair Community College and the city of Dayton have grown up together,” Murka said. Dayton was founded in 1805 and Sinclair was established in 1887.

RELATED: Downtown investment exceeds $1 billion this decade

Gudorf said Sinclair’s updates will allow students to work, live and go to school all in the downtown area. It also will provide more opportunities for students and small business owners.

“Enhancing our 80-acre downtown campus is a critically important investment,” Johnson said. “Our students and our prospective students will benefit from a campus that is easier to navigate and our community will benefit from a strengthened connection to a downtown that is growing ever more revitalized all the time.”

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