By Dylan Clayton
Seminole State College’s Altamonte Springs campus hosts over 6,000 students, exceeding the campus’s initial capacity by 2,000.
In response to an urgent need for space, the college recently renovated one of the old auto dealership buildings adjacent to the current building and parking lot. Building H is open.
These renovations at the former Hummer Building have allowed space for two additional classrooms, a conference room, a break room and 22 additional offices.
Classes will start there in the Spring 2019 term, according to an update by Laura Ross, vice president of Academic Affairs.
The college also plans to construct a second building on the Altamonte Springs campus, along with additional parking spaces and a connecting plaza.
These additions are anticipated over the next four years, but the college is currently waiting on approval for state funding to finance the project.
As early as 2008, the same year SSC’s Altamonte Springs campus opened, the college has expressed an interest to further expand the campus.
In 2010, the district board of trustees approved the acquisition of nearly 29 acres of land formerly occupied by three car dealerships neighboring the campus. The following year the college received $25 million from state Public Education Capital Outlay funds to acquire that land.
In 2012, working with community partners, the college approved a “strategic development plan, or master plan” for the campus.
The master plan outlined a nine-phase construction project to develop eight additional high-rise buildings and new parking structures that would provide the campus with more square footage than the college’s three other campuses combined.
Construction of a second building would complete the first phase of the master plan.
Previously, the college was pursuing public private partnerships, or P3, to finance the project.
Under the P3 model, the college would’ve had to lease out part of the eventual space in order to pay back the developer.
In an interview with the president of the college, Dr. Georgia Lorenz, and Richard Collins, chief financial officer, Lorenz suggested that, because of this, the P3 model was not the most optimal choice of recourse.
“The P3 process is more nuanced,” Dr. Lorenz said. “[The college] would’ve had to find a way to be able to sustain funding for the project long-term. Depending on how the contract was set up, we’d have had to lease out part of the space for 30 or 45 years.”
This “more nuanced” process requires those involved to compromise in order to achieve a goal where each party stands to benefit. But often, when there is compromise there, too, is complication.
For example, nearing the end of 2016, the district Board of Trustees approved construction of a second building on the Altamonte Springs campus. Development was anticipated to have begun November of the following year, but those plans fell through.
“We entered a good faith contract with a developer and they were unable to uphold their end of the deal,” said Collins, the CFO.
Should construction of a second building on the Altamonte Springs campus come to fruition, it would allow for the campus to expand its nursing program, and offer more general education and STEM-related classes, as well as academic support and tutoring services to students.