Bond map

A map of what the new Bakersfield College will look like after more than $500 million in construction bond projects are carried out. 

After a year of inaction and little to show taxpayers after they passed a $502 million bond measure for facilities improvements at the Kern Community College District, Bakersfield College officials unveiled a seven-year plan Monday that would transform the hilltop campus and create a new center in Arvin.

By 2024, the Bakersfield College campus on Panorama Drive will boast five new buildings — including a new gym, a welcome center and an Administration, Bookstore and Conference Center Building. Three older buildings, including a veteran’s resource center, will be renovated.

“This is a big day, and an important day as we start moving from visioning Measure J and what it can do for us to actually seeing a plan,” BC President Sonya Christian told a crowd Monday at the Levan Institute, referencing the 2016 bond measure.

The campus will remain open during construction, but students should expect to take courses in swing spaces, according to AECOM Parsons officials.

“There will be peak construction years that will be challenging, but everyone will have a home, even though people will have to walk over dust,” AECOM Parsons construction manager Scott Preston said. “People will have to walk over dust, but it will be worth it.”

Much of the construction will break ground this year, officials said. Among the key projects:

  • The Veterans Resource Center, a 5,000-square foot facility, will blend renovation and new construction, adding conference rooms, computer labs and a student lounge. It will break ground in fall 2018 and is planned to open by summer 2019.
  • The Administration, Bookstore and Conference Center Building, or ABC Building, will span 67,000 square feet and cost $30 million, pulling funds from both Measure J and remaining funds from the 2002 voter-approved Measure G. It will break ground in winter 2018 and be open by summer 2020.
  • The Science and Engineering Building, which construction officials described as a “keystone to what’s new and happening” in education, will span 68,000 square feet and cost $65 million, incorporating modular labs that can be adapted to new science fields as they emerge. It will break ground in summer 2019 and be completed by fall 2021.
  • The gym, old, deteriorating and unworkable from a construction standpoint, must be completely demolished to make way for a new building, construction officials said. It will break ground in winter 2020 and be completed by summer 2022.
  • The welcome center, which will greet visitors and students as they enter campus from a new entrance on Panorama Drive, will act as a full-service “one-stop shop” for students wanting to sign up for classes, pay their fees and get counseling, college officials said. It will span 13,000 square feet and cost $8 million. Construction breaks ground in 2021 and will be completed by winter of 2022.
  • The agricultural building, budgeted initially at $8 million, will cost the district $20 million — a result of college officials bolstering its offerings to students. It will retain a 45-acre farm and include green houses, computer labs, offices and classrooms. The groundbreaking is set for winter 2021 with completion date estimated for fall 2023.
  • The Public Safety Building, which will span 28,000 square feet, is budgeted at about $25 million. Its groundbreaking will occur in spring 2022. Its estimated completion date is winter 2024.

The plan comes more than one year after voters passed a $502 million bond — the largest in the county’s history. The district made little progress in that time producing a long-term plan for spending the bond dollars or getting building plans to the Division of State Architect’s office for review and approval.

“I fought bureaucracy all my life. It’s very frustrating for the people to vote in November 2016 a $500 million bond and then have 12 months go by and nothing has happened,” KCCD Trustee Bill Thomas said, praising the work of AECOM Parsons, a construction management firm contracted by the district to oversee facilities planning.

It has produced a seven-year master plan in just four months.

Carrying out such a volume of projects worth $500 million is nearly unheard of in such a short time frame; however, the district is undertaking a funding model that provides it more money up front and saves it millions of dollars in rising construction costs if it were to spend the funds over a longer period. 

AECOM Parsons has also already ushered plans for the Veterans Resource Center to the DSA office for review. 

Those reviews in the DSA office have been anticipated to take longer than usual this year because of the record number of bonds passed in 2016 across the state. Kern County alone passed more than $1 billion in bonds, breeding a competitive environment to capture local construction companies to carry out projects.

AECOM Parsons, however, has contracted with the DSA to pilot a new technology that would expedite the review process, Christian said.

“We want to make sure that we’re out there quickly hiring local to help expedite these projects,” Christian said. “We’re confident in the timeline we’ve put forward.”

Harold Pierce covers education and health for The Californian. He can be reached at 661-395-7404. Follow him on Twitter @RoldyPierce

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