The next phase in education HCCC announces massive expansion plan for UC, Journal Square campuses

Hudson County Executive Thomas A. DeGise joined Hudson County Community College officials including President Glen Gabert and the construction management team on Wednesday, April 20, to outline the college’s $55.4 million campus expansion program, which will shape their developments for the next five years.

The plans include developments for the surrounding main Journal Square campus in Jersey City, and the future design of the new North Hudson Community Center, which will be located on 49th Street and Kennedy Boulevard in Union City, adjacent to the future Hudson-Bergen Lightrail extension.

“The investments the county is making [in the college] are wise and well-thought out investments in our neighborhoods,” said DeGise. “The county administration is solidly behind these plans economically and in our hearts.”

According to DeGise, nine out of the 10 new jobs created in New Jersey over the last few years have come out of Hudson County. He and stressed the necessity of building the skills of the community in order to fill these jobs.

“A well-educated workforce is crucial to maintaining economic growth in Hudson County,” said DeGise. “Our $17 million investment in Hudson County Community College’s expansion is an investment in future economic growth for our entire community.”

Funding for HCCC’s expansion program included $17 million in county funds, $17 million in State Chapter 12 dollars, and $21 million from HCCC’s college plant fund.
A look at the future

Opening up the forum were members from the HCCC’s Board of Trustees, who then introduced Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise, who gave some brief statements about the projects. Dr. Glen Gabert, who is the HCCC president, and the various members of the construction management team gave the presentation of the Master Facilities Plan.

According to the outline, the goal of the plan is to develop 500,000 sq. ft. of space in Journal Square and North Hudson in order to meet the demands of student enrollment growth, implement new programs, expand on current programs, develop the remaining portion of the college campus, and eventually move the HCCC from leased facilities to college-owned facilities.

HCCC’s pride and joy

In Jersey City, the highlight of the college’s Journal Square expansion is the completion of their brand new $25 million five story state-of-the art Culinary Arts Institute, located on 161-169 Newkirk St., which will also serve as a Business Conference Center and a classroom building.

“We are very excited about the new Culinary Arts Institute/ Business Conference Center/ Classroom Building,” said Gabert. “It is the next step in our ongoing effort to make the Culinary Arts Institute recognized nationally and internationally for excellence.”

The building will include nine student labs, a banquet facility, which can accommodate up to 300 people, and a 60-seat fine dining room area. It will also be equipped “smart classrooms,” which use the latest wireless technology and designs in cooking equipment.

The first phase of the construction is set to be completed this upcoming June, and the second phase, which will start shortly after, will be completed the following year. HCCC’s two-year Culinary Arts Institute is one of a select few schools nationwide to be accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), which recognizes the high quality of a school’s instruction.

Another exciting aspect in HCCC’s expansion plans includes the construction of a new North Campus Center at 49th Street and Kennedy Boulevard in Union City.

A significant portion of the college’s enrollment has sprung from the county’s North Hudson region, which includes Union City, West New York, Weehawken and North Bergen. The North Campus Center will meet the need with a new large modern facility.

“We have an underserved population of about 1,000 to 2,000 people from that area, with the new campus we can enroll a minimum of 3,000 students,” said Gabert. Acquiring the land

For the last few years, Dr. Gabert and the HCCC Board of Trustees have been working on acquiring the land for the campus with the help of North Hudson’s administrative officials such as Assembly Speaker/West New York Mayor Albio Sires and Assemblyman/Union City Mayor Brian Stack.

“All the mayors and legislators [of North Hudson] including Sen. Bernard Kenny and Speaker Albio Sires, have been very supportive, and we certainly could have never acquired the land without working closely with Mayor Brian Stack,” said Gabert.

Final designs and plans for the site are still incomplete pending final clearance of the financial bonds that have to be issued. For the time being, the land has been cleared and construction is expected to begin in a year.

“Right now, it is a four-story building and about 25,000 square feet, but the exact program has not been finalized,” said John Capazzi of Rivardo-Schnitzer-Capazzi Architects and Planners.
Building their presence

In addition to the facility expansions, HCCC has set aside $600,000 for a new “Campus Identity” program, which will help emphasize the college’s presence throughout Hudson County with new signs, free-standing metal pylons, and flagging bearing a HCCC’s rendition of “Lady Liberty” to better identify the campus buildings.

“Often there is not a strong sense of campus identity, and we wanted to create something contemporary but also unique,” said Roger Whitehouse, on the HCCC-stylized “Lady Liberty.”

The current expansions are part of a $147.7 million capital plan, which includes the $19 million already invested in new and renovated facilities over the last five years. Prior and current projects have cost approximately $74.7 million.

HCCC offers a full range of associate degree and certificate programs, and serves the 12 towns in Hudson County with an enrollment increase that has gone up about 80 percent over the last decade.

“It’s an exciting time and we are very proud of the investments we are making in the school,” said DeGise. “When you look at the students, it looks like Hudson County.”


© 2000, Newspaper Media Group