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News Maryland Harford County Bel Air

Construction of HCC's 'Towson Building' to begin in coming weeks

A University System of Maryland project to build a long planned satellite building on the HCC campus for students to take third- and fourth-year college courses has been approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works, members of the Harford Community College Board of Trustees learned during a recent meeting.

The building will provide space for Harford County resident students to take Towson University courses.

College President Dennis Golladay announced the key state approval during the board's last meeting on Feb. 12.

Construction on the 60,000-square-foot structure, known as the "Towson Building," is expected to begin in the spring. The building should be ready for classes by the fall 2014 semester, Nancy Dysard, HCC's director for marketing and public relations, wrote in an e-mail Thursday.

"The idea is that these students start out at Harford Community College, get their first two years of college and then transfer seamlessly to the Towson program," Dysard said in an interview.

The building, called a "2+2 center" in higher educational terms, has an estimated cost of $20 million to $25 million, according to previous news reports.

With no four-year college in Harford County, many county residents who attend HCC transfer to Towson University to complete their four-year degree, Dysard noted.

"That's why this partnership is really important for the residents of Harford County," she said.

The building will have the capacity to accommodate up to 1,450 HCC students and Towson faculty. It will the first structure to be built on HCC's new west side campus, across Thomas Run Road from the main campus.

Dysard wrote that the building's features will include seven classrooms, five labs, 43 offices, a lecture hall, a cafe, "collaborative learning spaces," study areas, even a convenience store.

Harford students now can take Towson classes through HCC's HEAT Center in Aberdeen, the Towson student newspaper, The Towerlight, reported last August.

The project has been delayed in recent years – The Towerlight reported the Maryland Higher Education Commission conducted extensive reviews, and representatives of other University System of Maryland institutions in the Baltimore area, such as Morgan State University, were concerned it would not be available to students who wanted to take classes with their schools.

Fredrick Johnson, HCC's vice president of finance and operations, said Tuesday that Turner Construction Co., which is also the contractor overseeing the renovation of the college's Susquehanna Center, has been hired to oversee construction of the Towson Building.

Johnson said Towson will own the building and lease the site from HCC, and officials from both schools are working out a cost sharing arrangement for development costs, which could include widening Thomas Run Road from Route 22 and extending utilities to the building. There would also be an arrangement for providing "auxiliary services," such as food and security, he said.

The Towson Building will not be the only major construction project to begin at HCC this year; construction of the college's nursing and allied health building is scheduled to begin about two months after work begins on the Towson Building, Johnson said.

"We're excited about both projects," he said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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