NWACC to fundraise for new Springdale campus, hopes to open by 2018

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 302 views 

The Board of Trustees at NorthWest Arkansas Community College have approved the plans for a new campus in Springdale. The challenge now is raising the estimated $12 million to build and furnish it.

NWACC President Evelyn Jorgenson said construction costs, estimated at $11.5 million, and furnishing the building, estimated at $500,000, will be paid by private donations. 

“We won’t be getting any state money,” Jorgenson said Thursday (Aug.13).

The college purchased 20 acres on the west side of Arvest Ballpark in October 2014 for $2.4 million from Philip Taldo, a Springdale real estate broker. The plan shows a main building of about 50,000 square feet on the north half of the property. The building will face northeast to be more visible from the intersection of Watkins Avenue and South 56th Street.

A new 24-bed Arkansas Children’s Hospital is planned nearby on the northeast corner of 56th and Watkins, two blocks from the proposed campus. The Little Rock-based hospital needs to raise $70 million to build the hospital planned to open in 2018. The site is 37 acres donated by the families of Gary George and David Evans. The two fundraising campaigns probably will be going on simultaneously.

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said the community college’s Springdale campus is a “very important addition to our city. I look forward to supporting its development.”

“The 56th Street development, the hospital and the junior college and other development plans creates a real synergy out there,” he added.

It is the same area where a new Sam’s Club has been proposed for construction starting in 2016.

The college is still developing its fundraising campaign, according to Meredith Brunen, executive director for development. A silent phase of the campaign is expected to roll out by the end of this calendar year. No pledges of money have been made to the campaign yet, Brunen said. There is no timetable on the how long the fundraising campaign might last, said Steven Hinds, executive director of public relations and marketing.

“It will be based on the generosity of the response,” he said.

Jorgenson said she hopes the campus will open by 2018 although the timetable for construction is dependent on the fundraising.

NWACC has for years considered a Washington County campus since nearly 40% of students enrolled in credit classes have Washington County addresses. The college offers classes in leased space at Farmington High School, the Jones Center and a building on White Road in Springdale.

The new building will be used for general education courses, now taught in the satellite locations across Washington County as well as construction technology, dental assisting and mechatronics classes. Additional space will be for community use, student support services and the college’s Early College Experience for high school students taking college classes. 

NWACC first announced plans for a new Springdale campus in May 2012. Since that time the college has opened a $14.2 million health professions center on the Bentonville campus. NWACC also is home to the Southern Regional National Child Protection Training Center which opened in early 2014. The lead donor in that $3 million renovation was Melba Shewmaker. Her late husband, Jack Shewmaker and family through charitable donations, also help to fund the college’s Workforce Global Technologies center as well as the school’s nursing program.

The Walton Family Foundation recently committed $15 million to NWACC for its expanded culinary program that will be moving to a new location near downtown Bentonville for 2016.

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