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Within months, Owens Community College will have a new collegiate feel.
The college has finalized a master plan to incorporate the former Penta Career Center into Owens' Perrysburg Township campus.
The road between the two campuses will be removed, parking will be shifted to the outside edges, and a mall green area will be added to the center of campus.
And Owens is hoping for federal stimulus dollars to help make it happen.
The college has requested more than $8 million in stimulus funds for the renovations.
"We know these projects are shovel-ready," said John Satkowski, Owens' vice president of business affairs and chief financial officer.
"We have the architect working on it, so if we get federal money to get going, then we can use state money to get the rest of the project going on at the same time," he said.
Owens received $6 million from the state to purchase the Penta campus and $8.5 million more for the renovations.
Mr. Satkowski said if the request is approved, the college could use the federal dollars for the planned improvements and the state money to go into future stages of campus renovations.
The first stages are under way with the demolition of the Main Hall on the Penta campus complete. Owens plans to keep the site a grassy area with sidewalks.
Next are parking-lot changes to merge the large Penta lot with Owens parking and, in doing so, make it narrower and longer to add parking spaces and also green space on the interior of campus.
That, coupled with removing Second Street, which now runs between the two campuses, will help bring traffic to the outside edges of the campus and make it a safer and more pedestrian-friendly area, Mr. Satkowski said.
"The whole idea was to open the campus up to reduce the traffic through the middle of campus and allow students to have congregation areas and green space to sit and relax in," he said.
After those exterior changes are made, Owens will move inside to renovate two Penta buildings, the former administration building and north skill center building.
About $1.5 million will go to prepare the administration building to house a number of arts and sciences programs currently spread across campus, Mr. Satkowski said.
And the north skill center, which has a large open area, will be renovated with about $3.9 million to add floors and walls for 46 classrooms. It will house the business, nursing, and culinary arts programs.
And lastly, Owens will transform College Hall into a one-stop place for student services.
Adding classrooms to the skill center building will allow classrooms now in College Hall to be turned into offices to put financial aid, registration, enrollment services, and others under one roof. That will cost about $1 million.
If federal dollars are received for those updates, the college will be able to use the state funds for future college improvements such as knocking down Alumni Hall to add a parking lot there, renovating Penta's media center building, and adding another parking lot on the opposite side of the railroad tracks.
The 27.5-acre former Penta site was a much-needed expansion for Owens, which has been experiencing record-breaking growth for years and whose square feet per student ranked among the lowest of any state higher-education institution.
"We're just so tight on space," said Brian Paskvan, vice president for administration at Owens. "Last fall, we spent probably four to five hours here on a Friday night before school started on Monday looking for classroom space."
The Penta campus was a natural choice because of its location near the Owens campus, Mr. Paskvan said, and the reorganization it allows will help give Owens that more collegiate feel it wants.
"Our age of students is dropping in some respects and we see a lot more traditional students than we ever have, so we want to make sure we are accommodating all students on campus," Mr. Paskvan said.
Despite all these moves toward a university feel, Mr. Paskvan said Owens is committed to being an open-access two-year institution.
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