NORTH FOREST – Shadydale Elementary was the site for a community meeting last Monday evening, hosted by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
The purpose of the meeting was to report back to the North Forest community, on current plans for the Houston Community College to proceed with construction of three new buildings and a new campus, at the site on Little York at Homestead Road. The meeting opened with a moment of silence marking the passing of long-time North Forest Trustee Lois Edwards.
The project had been proposed in a referendum that the community approved in 2008, but budget shortfalls with all of HCC had curtailed construction until now.
As presented to the public by HCC Chancellor Cesar Maldonado, vice Chancellor Margaret Ford-Fisher, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, the site will get three new buildings: a 20,000 sf Academic building, a 35,000 sf Automotive Technology building, and an existing building renovated into a workforce Training facility with welding, and building trades. New parking for 275 will accommodate additional students and faculty.
Total cost for these structures is expected to be $43.8 million, much of it spent in the community and employing local workers, said vice Chancellor Ford-Fisher. Total campus size will eventually be 97,000 sf. It is anticpated that the project will not only provide new educational and job opportunities, but will be a catalyst for other development, and a turning point for the moribund North Forest neighborhood. Construction is expected to be completed by June 2017. Project contractor at risk is Durotech Corp., and the architect is PGAL.
Maldonado said the goal is to have 500 students at the new campus, with a state of the art Automotive Technology training.
A “blue-ribbon” committee has been working with HCC to insure the buildings were what the community needed and wanted. However, the meeting was not without controversy. Several members of the audience, including Ivory Mayhorn and wife Jackie, raised the objection that the building design was too plain and simple, and not monumental or commanding like suburban “Katy-like” schools. However, Maxine Seals suggested that they should be “satisfied with what we get. We need it now.”
Ford-Fisher said that in the future other buildings will be built, and that this campus will offer a better education that will attract others into the community, giving it an economic boost.