SPRING HILL — After years of hopeful planning, a little arguing and an ever-increasing demand for classroom space, construction is under way on the new Pasco-Hernando Community College campus off U.S. 19.
"It may look like a big pile of dirt now," said John Dougherty, chairman of the PHCC Foundation's board of directors. "But soon it's going to be a beautiful campus."
According to school officials, it's not a moment too soon.
"We've had unprecedented growth," spokeswoman Lucy Miller said, referring to crowded conditions at the current Spring Hill center on Spring Hill Drive, near Mariner Boulevard.
"The demand in Spring Hill has been very high," Miller said. "We outgrew our old location years ago."
Site work for the new, $46 million Spring Hill campus began last year, and construction will continue for the next 12 months. Completion is planned for the fall of 2010. The majority of the funding for construction is coming from the state's public education capital outlay program.
The campus will provide expanded course offerings, allowing students to complete their associate's degrees without having to travel to other locations.
"We will meet the needs of students," said Stanley Giannet, PHCC North Campus provost. "We will provide outstanding programs that focus on high-wage, high-skill, targeted occupations."
The college estimates that about 3,000 students will attend the center annually.
"The new campus will have a corporate-like atmosphere, nestled in the foliage," said Giannet. "The buildings will all have a high-tech, state-of-the-art infrastructure."
In addition to being equipped with wireless technology, classrooms will have so-called teaching bunkers, housing DVD players, computers and additional technology, allowing instructors to project images directly from a book or newspaper onto a screen.
The first phase includes seven campus buildings, totaling 100,000 square feet.
The campus will include 10 classrooms, a library, a multipurpose and conference building, six computer labs and a full-service student development center for admissions, financial aid and registration. A testing center and learning lab will be housed in the library, officials said.
If growth escalates and funding is available, additional buildings may be constructed as part of a second phase, Miller said.
Florida Architects designed the building project, and Skanska USA Building is the construction company.
Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at email@example.com.