Hawaii Community College officials mull expansion options

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  • 6161034_web1_Map.jpg

Hawaii Community College is looking to either renovate its current campus on Manono Street or move to a larger site elsewhere in Hilo.

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Hawaii Community College is looking to either renovate its current campus on Manono Street or move to a larger site elsewhere in Hilo.

Administrators are weighing three options as part of a long-term redevelopment plan for the campus, which aims to upgrade decades-old buildings, add more space and address maintenance needs such as aging equipment, roof and electrical system improvements and plumbing upgrades.

“Our Manono campus is almost 65 years old,” said HCC Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas. “It’s certainly served us well. But being 65 years old, there are certainly some infrastructure and deferred maintenance needs. So that’s where we’re at.”

The campus is awaiting findings of a consultant’s report, which is expected to include the pros and cons of each option, along with updated cost estimates. The report is expected to be presented to the University of Hawaii’s Board of Regents in early 2018.

Once the board approves a plan, HCC will request funds from the state Legislature and explore other financing options such as private and local funds.

A redevelopment timeline is contingent on “which site is chosen by the board and what the financing model looks like,” Solemsaas said.

“I’m really hoping we can get something started, designed and get construction started in two to three years,” she said. “It may take 10 years to transition it completely, but we want to start right away. It’s long overdue.”

The new campus would accommodate up to 4,600 students. Similar to other UH campuses, HCC enrollment has decreased each year for several years. This fall, enrollment dropped 4.6 percent to 2,819 students.

However, HCC officials say the enrollment decline is partly because of an improving economy. It’s also a national trend. Officials say enrollment remains above pre-Recession levels and is expected to grow in the long term.

The three redevelopment options are:

1. Updating HCC’s current Manono campus, located on a state-owned, 20.7-acre parcel along Kawili Street. Solemsaas said the campus has limited science lab space, and many of the buildings could be updated to be more energy efficient. She said many students take classes in facilities shared with UH-Hilo up the street, which creates logistical problems for those who travel back and forth. Eight of HCC’s 27 buildings are portables that are intended to be used temporarily, she said.

2. Relocating and rebuilding the campus on a 120-acre parcel of land above Komohana Street between Nowelo and Mohouli streets. The land is owned by the University of Hawaii.

3. Relocate to a 35-acre parcel of land on Kawili Street across from the UH-Hilo campus. That land also has been targeted for a mixed-use commercial center at UH-Hilo called University Village.

UH-Hilo spokesman Jerry Chang said Tuesday that UH-Hilo also is still looking to lease the property for commercial use and looking for interested private developers.

HCC was founded in 1941 as the Hawaii Vocational School. Programs were initially taught at public schools in the Hilo area and then relocated in 1943 to a property near Reeds Bay.

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HCC has operated out of its current campus since it was built in 1956.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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Hawaii Community College officials mull expansion options

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Hawaii Community College is weighing options to either redevelop or build a new campus. One potential location for a new campus is Komohana Street in between Mohouli and Nowelo streets.

  • Hawaii Community College is weighing options to either redevelop or build a new campus. One potential location for a new campus is Komohana Street in between Mohouli Street and Nowelo Street Extension.

Hawaii Community College is looking to either renovate its current campus on Manono Street or move to a larger site elsewhere in Hilo.

Administrators are weighing three options as part of a long-term redevelopment plan for the campus, which aims to upgrade decades-old buildings, add more space and address maintenance needs such as aging equipment, roof and electrical system improvements and plumbing upgrades.

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“Our Manono campus is almost 65 years old,” said HCC Chancellor Rachel Solemsaas. “It’s certainly served us well. But being 65 years old, there are certainly some infrastructure and deferred maintenance needs. So that’s where we’re at.”

The campus is awaiting findings of a consultant’s report, which is expected to include the pros and cons of each option, along with updated cost estimates. The report is expected to be presented to the University of Hawaii’s Board of Regents in early 2018.

Once the board approves a plan, HCC will request funds from the state Legislature and explore other financing options such as private and local funds.

A redevelopment timeline is contingent on “which site is chosen by the board and what the financing model looks like,” Solemsaas said.

“I’m really hoping we can get something started, designed and get construction started in two to three years,” she said. “It may take 10 years to transition it completely, but we want to start right away. It’s long overdue.”

The new campus would accommodate up to 4,600 students. Similar to other UH campuses, HCC enrollment has decreased each year for several years. This fall, enrollment dropped 4.6 percent to 2,819 students.

However, HCC officials say the enrollment decline is partly because of an improving economy. It’s also a national trend. Officials say enrollment remains above pre-Recession levels and is expected to grow in the long term.

The three redevelopment options are:

1. Updating HCC’s current Manono campus, located on a state-owned, 20.7-acre parcel along Kawili Street. Solemsaas said the campus has limited science lab space, and many of the buildings could be updated to be more energy efficient. She said many students take classes in facilities shared with UH-Hilo up the street, which creates logistical problems for those who travel back and forth. Eight of HCC’s 27 buildings are portables that are intended to be used temporarily, she said.

2. Relocating and rebuilding the campus on a 120-acre parcel of land above Komohana Street between Nowelo and Mohouli streets. The land is owned by the University of Hawaii.

3. Relocate to a 35-acre parcel of land on Kawili Street across from the UH-Hilo campus. That land also has been targeted for a mixed-use commercial center at UH-Hilo called University Village.

UH-Hilo spokesman Jerry Chang said Tuesday that UH-Hilo also is still looking to lease the property for commercial use and looking for interested private developers.

HCC was founded in 1941 as the Hawaii Vocational School. Programs were initially taught at public schools in the Hilo area and then relocated in 1943 to a property near Reeds Bay.

ADVERTISING


HCC has operated out of its current campus since it was built in 1956.

Email Kirsten Johnson at kjohnson@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.