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Construction to start on Southwestern College’s aquatics and fitness center

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In roughly two years, students, staff and the Chula Vista community will have new aquatics facilities, indoor sporting venue and fitness labs as Southwestern College is getting ready to start construction on its new Wellness Center.

The approximately 75,000-square-foot Wellness Center will consist of a 2,500-seat gymnasium, pools for water polo and Olympic swimming competitions, classrooms, fitness labs, cardio workout rooms, locker rooms and testing labs.

The new Wellness Center will be built on the campus’s corner lot at East H Street and Otay Lakes Road.

Mark Claussen, Southwestern College’s Proposition R bond manager, said site infrastructure work will start this summer. The construction of the main building and pools to start in January 2016.

The Wellness Center itself has a price tag of $41 million. An additional $7 million will go toward coordinating infrastructure, such as water pipes and underground utilities.

Claussen said a new Wellness Center is being built to replace the existing facilities and centralize all of the amenities.

“We also wanted to have a new approach to our wellness program, one that appeals to the lifestyle of today’s students,” said Claussen, adding that the Wellness Center will offer nutrition counseling.

The Wellness Center is part of the college’s Facilities Master Plan to replace the current gymnasium, pool and support structures.

A new math and science building will go up on the lot where the existing pool and old wellness center sits.

The Wellness Center is a construction management at-risk project. Gensler is the architect and Balfour Beatty is the construction manager.

Claussen said Southwestern College will bid out the various subcontracting work to tradesmen in the coming months and the request for proposals can be found on the college’s website.

Tom Heffernan, principal at Gensler, said it took the firm roughly one year to plan and design the Wellness Center.

“We interviewed campus officials and had community forums to determine the size and look of the new Wellness Center,” Heffernan said.

Heffernan said some of the challenging aspects from the design side were the 35-foot change in elevation from the corner lot to the main campus, and the need to blend in the new design with the school’s existing Mayan-inspired architecture.

The Wellness Center is funded by Proposition R, a $389 million bond measure passed by voters in 2008 to fund new facilities, purchase new equipment and lease property. It was later re-examined and allotted by the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board in 2012.

So far, the $55 million Devore Stadium Field House and Utility Central Plant has been completed, along with wireless communications upgrades to both of Southwestern’s satellite campuses and main campus, a $13 million solar panel system and an emergency communications system.

Two projects are just beginning the design phase: the college’s $31 million Performing Arts and Cultural Center with 500-seat theater, classrooms and dance studio; and a $14 million parking structure, adjacent to the performing arts center.

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