Spokane Journal of Business

School construction activity here eases, but still strong

Community colleges account for big share of anticipated projects

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School construction activity  here eases, but still strong
-—Rendering courtesy of NAC/Architecture Inc.
Whitworth University says it expects this 170-bed, 44,000-square-foot dormitory, called East Residence Hall, to be completed this fall, in time to house students arriving for the 2009-2010 school year. Vandervert Construction Inc., of Spokane, is the general contractor on the project, and NAC/Architecture Inc., also of Spokane, designed it.

Education-related construction activity is slowing, due partly to economy-related concerns and funding constraints, but remains relatively strong, with projects collectively valued at upwards of $200 million currently under way or expected to begin this year.

Community Colleges of Spokane is planning roughly $155 million in construction projects, nearly $100 million of which are scheduled to get under way this year if final funding is approved by the Washington Legislature, as expected.

The largest of those projects would be a technical education building at Spokane Community College and a new science building at Spokane Falls Community College, with estimated costs of $34.6 million and $31 million, respectively.

The largest Spokane Public Schools project, a roughly $74 million expansion and modernization of Shadle Park High School, at 4327 N. Ash, is in the third of five phases—about 70 percent complete—and is expected to wrap up in the summer of 2010.

Another major project, though the possibility of it getting under way this year remains uncertain, is a planned $37 million science center at Whitworth University that would be the first phase of an envisioned $53 million overhaul of the school's science facilities.

Just as noteworthy, though, are a couple of big projects that have been shelved for now.

Gonzaga University says it has decided to postpone construction of a greatly enlarged student center and a 630-space parking garage and retail center until the economy improves, and probably will reevaluate the scope of those projects before proceeding with them. It previously had estimated the combined cost of those projects at $49 million to $54 million.

Gonzaga is continuing work, though, on the $16 million first phase of a planned two-building, 632-bed freshman residence hall that will be located just east of the McCarthey Athletic Center, at 816 N. Cincinnati, on what had been a soccer practice field.

The initial 330-bed complex has been erected, although exterior and interior finish work is continuing, and the structure should be completed in August, says Dale Goodwin, university spokesman. Walker Construction Inc., of Spokane, is the contractor on the project, and Wolfe Architectural Group PS, also of Spokane, designed it.

For Spokane Public Schools, much of the attention still is focused at Shadle Park. The big project there will reconfigure the North Side school, making the main entrance face west, toward Shadle Park, and adding about 55,000 square feet of new floor space to give it a total of about 275,000 square feet.

Greg Brown, the school district's director of capital projects, says new athletic spaces, a new student commons, a new library, and about 50 percent of the new classroom spaces have been completed, with work also wrapping up recently on new administrative offices.

The high school's auditorium and additional classroom space will be completed this summer, he says, with remaining science rooms and career technical education rooms to be completed later in the project's fourth phase, Brown says. The final phase will involve site improvement work, including putting in new parking facilities near the intersection of Wellesley Avenue and Ash Street, he says.

NAC/Architecture, of Spokane, is the architect on the project, and Garco Construction Inc., of Spokane, is the general contractor and construction manager.

Garco also is the general contractor and construction manager for a nearly completed $65 million expansion and renovation of Rogers High School, in northeast Spokane. That project included the construction of 186,000 square feet of new space and the renovation of the original 1932 art-deco high school building.

Brown says all of the new interior space at Rogers now is done, and the focus has turned to new parking facilities and tennis courts, which are expected to be completed this summer.

Spokane Public Schools also plans a handful of smaller projects at various schools that include things such as roof, boiler, and fire-alarm system replacements and total about $4 million, he says.

Separately, the district was awaiting word earlier this week on the outcome of a ballot measure that would put into motion a second, six-year phase of bond-funded school modernization projects. That modernization plan totals $332 million and includes replacements or modernizations of four elementary schools and the completion of the replacement of Ferris High School, as well as roughly $125 million worth of smaller projects and technology upgrades.

Brown says the district is ready to move ahead this spring with two projects—totaling around $6 million—that would be funded with some of those bond proceeds. Those projects involve roofing work and total replacements of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems at Garfield and Longfellow elementary schools.

Also in the K-12 sector, Spokane Junior Academy is moving toward completion of the first phase of a $6.6 million, 55,000-square-foot school that it's developing in two phases at 1115 N. Government Way in northwest Spokane.

The academy is operated by the Spokane-based Upper Columbia Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and currently is located at 1888 N. Wright Drive, west of Spokane Falls Community College. The new school will be located on a 39-acre site owned by the church-affiliated Upper Columbia Corp. and is directly across Government Way from Life Center Foursquare Church.

The 30,000-square-foot first phase, currently expected to be completed by Aug. 1, includes 14 classrooms on two levels, administration office space, a science lab, a temporary cafeteria, and a day care. The second phase will add about 25,000 square feet of floor space, including a gymnasium, music and choir facilities, and a cafeteria.

The first phase, originally expected to be completed by last fall, was delayed due to funding issues, says Principal Brian Harris, and the timetable for the second phase, previously expected to be completed by this spring, remained unclear as of late last month.

The academy serves students in pre-school through 10th grade and this year is launching a pilot online program for 11th and 12th graders, Harris says.

Higher-ed projects

Gonzaga has completed a string of sizable projects in recent years, but Goodwin says it has decided to put major pending projects on hold until the economy picks up.

It had said last year that it expected its planned new student center to be about four times the size of the current 35,000-square-foot COG building and to cost $40 million to $45 million. Goodwin says now, though, that those size and cost figures could change. "I assume everything will be looked at" from a fresh perspective once the recession begins to lift, he says.

Plans called for the new student center to be built on the same site as the COG, at 702 E. Desmet, also using its adjoining parking. Part of the intent is to create more space for clubs, class activities, and student body offices, as well as for a new bookstore.

The parking garage and retail center project that the university also has put on hold for now is expected to occupy the block bounded by Boone Avenue, Cincinnati Street, Desmet Avenue, and Hamilton Street, just south of a David's Pizza outlet.

Goodwin had said last year that the parking garage would take up the western three quarters of that block, and the two-story, 14,000-square-foot retail complex would sit on the eastern quarter, and that the university would offer space in the retail center for lease.

Vandervert Construction Inc., of Spokane; ALSC Architects PS; and the Spokane office of Bellevue-based DCI Engineers Inc. have been working jointly on plans for that project.

Gonzaga has said that once the new garage and retail center is completed, it plans to move its bookstore and student dining services to the retail space there while it builds the new student center.

The university has made some recent improvements to its competition soccer field, Martin Field, including raising the field and installing a ticket booth, press box, and fencing. It plans other improvements there, including installing grandstands, a concessions area, bathrooms, locker rooms, and field lighting, but hasn't set a timetable for that work, Goodwin says.

At Whitworth, although it's unclear whether the previously mentioned science center project will get under way this year, the private, Presbyterian-affiliated school is tearing down an old fine arts building that sits on part of the site that the science center will occupy.

Also, construction is well along on a 170-bed, 44,000-square-foot dormitory, called East Residence Hall, that will be located on the east side Whitworth's campus, just northwest of Duvall Hall. The project is on track to be completed this fall, in time to house students arriving for the 2009-2010 school year, says Emily Proffitt, university spokeswoman.

Whitworth has said its construction of the new dorm is intended to help it fulfill a goal of being able to house two-thirds of its roughly 2,000 students on campus. Vandervert Construction was awarded a $7 million contract to construct the dorm, and NAC/Architecture designed the project, which is expected to cost a total of $11.6 million, counting design fees, furnishings, and other expenses.

Meanwhile, at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, work also is well along on a $12.2 million expansion and restoration of the 38,000-square-foot Hargreaves Hall, which was the university's first major library, but now is used mostly for offices.

The project includes updating the main building, adding a 9,000-square-foot classroom addition, and restoring its original 4,500-square-foot library space for special-event use. Madsen Mitchell Evenson & Conrad PLLC, of Spokane, designed the project, and Levernier Construction Inc., of Spokane, is the general contractor.

The project had been scheduled for completion this month, but EWU decided to make improvements to part of the building's basement, so work now isn't expected to wrap up until about July, says Shawn King, EWU's associate vice president for facilities and planning.

NAC/Architecture is designing a proposed $30 million expansion and renovation of Patterson Hall, also on the Cheney campus.

The project would add 32,000 square feet of floor space to the 103,200-square-foot building in one phase, and the interior would be remodeled in a second phase of work.

The Washington Legislature still needs to approve funding for the project, but King says Gov. Chris Gregoire included it in her budget for the new biennium, which gives the proposal some added traction, and he adds that it potentially could get under way late this year if funding is approved.

"We're still hopeful that we would get that project," he says. "It's our No. 1 priority, and it's really our only major request."

The Community Colleges of Spokane work that's expected to begin this year includes four SFCC projects and two projects at SCC.

The earlier mentioned technical education building planned at SCC is expected to be a 70,000-square-foot structure and is to be located in the northeast part of campus, east of Rebecca Street. LSW Architects PC, of Vancouver, Wash., designed that project. Also planned there is a $10.9 million renovation of the old science building. De Neff Deeble Barton Associates, of Spokane, is the architect on that project.

On the SFCC campus, the new science building planned there is to be a 70,000-square-foot, two-story structure that would be built in the east-central part of the campus, where two smaller buildings were demolished last summer. A Portland firm designed that project.

Other projects expected to get under way at SFCC this year include a $15.4 million expansion and renovation of the music building and construction of a $4.8 million structure to house an early childhood learning center. Integrus Architects PS and OMS Inc., both of Spokane, designed those projects, respectively.

Also scheduled for this year is a $1.5 million interior renovation of the Warren G. Magnuson building.

Kim Crompton
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