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California State San Marcos, community colleges expand to meet student needs

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Whether a result of population growth or an increased demand for higher education, community colleges and universities in the North County region are anticipating enrollment increases, which is spurring a significant amount of new construction.

Three projects are nearing completion on the campus of California State San Marcos, a university that anticipates a student population increase of 11,000 students by 2020, according to Brad Fenton, project manager for the university.

The university's light rail station, which is part of the North County Transit District's (NTCD) 22-mile rail line dubbed the Sprinter and also part of the San Marcos Light Rail Loop, is essentially complete with only minor work remaining on the station's elevator, according to Tom Kelleher, spokesmen for NTCD.

Unlike the other stations, the university's stop features upgrades such as specific masonry and canopies.

Construction on the entire 21-mile line, which connects Escondido, San Marcos, Vista and Oceanside, is 98 percent complete and NCTD is currently in the process of testing the vehicles along the rail and coordinating signal systems.

The Sprinter will begin running in December of this year, Kelleher said. The San Marcos loop cost $24.3 million, with West Coast Rail serving as the contractor.

Two other projects will be complete in the near future, as only punchlist work remains. Typically a punchlist is an itemized list documenting incomplete or unsatisfactory items after the contractor has notified the owner that a project is complete.

The 20,000-square-foot Center for Children and Families is scheduled for an August completion, according to Fenton.

The facility will accommodate 190 children and house programs addressing the health, education and development of the children and their families. NTDStichler is serving as the architect with O'Connor Construction Management serving as the building manager.

Initially built in 1992, Craven Hall renovation is nearly complete. The four-story, 155,000-square-foot facility was redesigned by architects Robbins Jorgensen Christopher.

In August 2006, construction was completed for Parking Lot F, which added 1,555 parking spaces.

Aside from this construction, the Cal State San Marcos has several projects in the conceptual stage, including the Social and Behavioral Sciences Building.

The project would include 111,283 gross square feet and would feature lecture halls, labs, graduate research space, 125 faculty offices, a dean's suite, an Institute for Justice and Social Equity, a National Latino Research Center, a Center for Indigenous California Indian Sovereignty, a Center for Border and Regional Affairs, and conference rooms.

The total project allocation is $56 million.

On July 13 the State Public Works Board approved preliminary design plans for the project, which now enters the construction document phase. Construction is slated to begin in August 2008, with a building opening date of January 2011.

A two-story, 15,000-square-foot Parking Services & Police Station building is also an upcoming project for the university, as construction is expected to begin in December 2008, with a July 2010 completion date. The project cost is estimated at $7 million.

Construction on the first of at least six planned parking structures is anticipated to begin in December 2008. The structure, which would be built on the existing Lot N, would provide 1,400 spaces. The structure was originally approved for the 2007/08 Capital Outlay Program for 2,800 spaces, but increased project costs necessitated revising the program. The project is slated for a July 2010 completion. The university, under its capital improvement program, is also discussing the construction of a student union building, additional student housing, another new academic building and athletic facilities, according to Fenton. North County's two community college districts also have projects under construction.

Palomar Community College is nearing completion of a new three-story, 103,000-square-foot natural science building, according to Kelley Hudson-MacIsaac, manager of facilities planning for Palomar. Landscaping and moving in furniture is all that remains before the project is complete, she added.

"That's is significant because it's the first (new) instructional building since 1970," she said.

The college district is also working on construction documents for another three-story instructional building. Recently the Palomar College trustees approved architectural plans for a 56,000-square-foot instructional facility, which is one of the first projects to be funded by Proposition M, a $694 million facilities bond measure approved by voters in November.

A $45 million, 83,000-square-foot library and a $38 million, 70,000-square-foot multidisciplinary building are also included in the initial round of Proposition M construction.

Barnhart Inc. is remaining busy in the North County educational building sector, as the San Diego-based general contractor is constructing three buildings for the MiraCosta Community College District.

Two existing buildings have been demolished on the district's Oceanside campus and are being replaced by a 22,510-square-foot Creative Arts and Music facility, according to Bonnie Hall, public information officer for the district.

The three-story, $14.5 million building will contain two recording studios with two control rooms and facilities for creative and artistic programs.

In addition to grading, underground utilities, concrete and structural work, the masonry exterior and metal framed building will contain walls, floors and ceilings that are specially constructed for acoustic enhancements, according to Barnhart.

Also being constructed on the Oceanside campus is a 5,500-square-foot career transfer and counseling center. The $3.4 million project was designed by tBP Architecture.

At the district's San Elijo campus, Barnhart is completing a $4.5 million remodel of the existing student center. Construction also includes expanding the center by 6,600 square feet.

All three of the projects will be completed in the fall in preparation for use during the spring semester of 2008.

According to Hall, the district recently has experienced a construction boom, as a new horticultural center opened prior to the spring 2007 semester. The 11,200-square-foot center was built on a hillside with a one-story and two-story feature, according to Barnhart.

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