COVINGTON, KY—Gateway Community and Technical College has released the details of its planned $80 million Urban Campus in 300,000 square feet of buildings in downtown Covington.
Gateway first announced its intent to create a campus in the urban core in June 2007. The goal then, the college said, was to replace the college’s aging campus on Amsterdam Road on the western edge of Covington with facilities that would provide easier access for urban residents.
Gateway President and CEO Ed Hughes said in a statement that the new downtown campus expects to feature the adaptive reuse of nine existing properties, along with new construction, in an overall framework that will transform the region’s urban core into a vibrant college community with opportunities for economic development as well as educational improvement.
He said the college is in the process of acquiring the nine properties that will form the nucleus of the new campus, which will be created primarily in a six-block area from Fourth to Seventh streets and from Greenup to Madison avenues. Gateway will continue to occupy the building it acquired in 2010 at 525 Scott Blvd., the former Two Rivers school. Coupled with existing facilities at Two Rivers, these buildings will provide nearly 300,000 square feet of space for instruction, student services and related academic purposes.
“Today’s announcement has been 10 years in the making,” Hughes said. “We were encouraged early by the community to think big. The Urban Campus not only will change the lives of the students who find new hope within its streets and walls, it will create as yet unimagined economic development potential for the river cities and the whole region.”
Proceeds from the sale of the Amsterdam Road campus and adjacent Park Hills Elementary School, which the Gateway Foundation purchased in 2003, will be used to develop the downtown campus. The college was granted the authority by the Kentucky General Assembly to sell the old campus and use the proceeds exclusively to support the development of the new Urban Campus.
The foundation agreed to raise up to $5 million initially, and the college and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System have committed more than $12 million to support the initial phases of the campus. Gateway will seek the remainder of the funding from the General Assembly in 2014.
Hughes admits the urban area presents unique challenges and opportunities. “We are building a complete campus that will meet the unique needs in the urban core. For instance, we envision an Urban Spa and Wellness Center in one of the buildings, which can provide services to the residents and guests of the proposed Covington Hotel,” he said.
He said the plan will repurpose the former Marx furniture store on Madison as a Technology and Design Center to complement the technology businesses there. The college bookstore will be on Madison Avenue and will be open to all residents. The former YMCA building at 19 East Pike will become a student services and workforce development hub and the site of the Eva and Oakley Farris Child Development Center. “With the GCTC Foundation, we will create the Gateway Kaleidoscope Center for Urban Outreach at the Methodist Church on Greenup and Fifht streets. We will build a new science and allied health teaching center at 620-634 Scott Street that will complement the new Kenton County Library,” he said.
Hughes said the goal of the plan was to create a framework that would embed the college into the community and enable even greater collaboration between the two. A key element of the plan is to work with existing community partners like the library, Northern Kentucky Convention Center, Baker Hunt Cultural Center and Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center. “Our plan complements what is in the community and doesn’t duplicate what is here already.”
Covington Mayor Chuck Scheper said the development will boost the local economy with more jobs, retail and restaurants. “This project will invigorate Covington’s Madison Avenue corridor and restore it to the vibrant district it once was,” he said.