ConceptKCTCS/KCTCSConcept News Item | Gateway Community & Technical College

Gateway Announces Master Plan, Moves Ahead with $80 Million Urban Campus in Covington

Gateway Community and Technical College today released the details of the Master Plan for its Urban Campus in downtown Covington. The plan, estimated to cost $80 million over the next decade, features the adaptive re-use of nine existing properties, along with new construction, in an overall framework that will transform the region’s urban core into a vibrant college community with opportunities for economic development as well as educational improvement.

Gateway President and CEO Ed Hughes said the college is in the process of acquiring the nine properties that will form the nucleus of the new campus, which will be created primarily in a six-block area from 4th to 7th Streets and from Greenup to Madison Avenue in Covington. Gateway will continue to occupy the building it acquired in 2010 at 525 Scott Blvd., the former Two Rivers school.

“Today’s announcement has been 10 years in the making. It is the culmination of many hours of collaboration, negotiation, discussion, and visioning by dozens and dozens of community leaders, government officials, concerned citizens, Gateway’s board of directors, faculty, staff and students, the Gateway Foundation board, and our planning consultants,” Hughes said. “We were encouraged early by the community to think big.

“The Urban Campus not only will change the lives of the students who find new hope within its streets and walls, it will create as yet unimagined economic development potential for the river cities and the whole region,” he added.

Gateway announced its intent to create a campus in the urban core in June 2007. The goal then, as now, was to replace the college’s aging campus on Amsterdam Road on the western edge of Covington with facilities that would provide easier access for urban residents.

Proceeds from the sale of the Amsterdam Road campus and adjacent Park Hills Elementary School, which the Gateway Foundation purchased in 2003, will be used to develop the downtown campus. The college was granted the authority by the Kentucky General Assembly to sell the old campus and use the proceeds exclusively to support the development of the new Urban Campus. The Gateway Foundation has agreed to raise up to $5 million initially, and the college and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System have committed over $12 million to support the initial phases of the campus. Gateway will seek the remainder of the funding from the General Assembly in 2014.

Coupled with existing facilities at Two Rivers, these buildings will provide nearly 300,000 square feet of space for instruction, student services and related academic purposes.

Stan Harvey, principal of Urban Collage, and Brent Brunner, principal of EOP Architects, the college’s master plan consultants, noted the unique challenges and opportunities an urban campus provides. They emphasized that the plan is a framework that the college will use to guide campus development over the next several decades. Examples of similar urban campuses presented included the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and the College of Charleston in South Carolina. The Gateway plan aligns with the recently completed Covington Center City Action Plan and supports Vision 2015 goals.

“We are building a complete campus that will meet the unique needs in the urban core,” said Hughes. “For instance, we envision an Urban Spa and Wellness Center in one of the buildings, which can provide services to the residents and guests of the proposed Covington Hotel.

“We will repurpose the former Marx furniture store on Madison as our Technology and Design Center to complement the technology businesses there. Our college bookstore will be on Madison Avenue and will be open to all residents. The former YMCA building at 19 East Pike will become our student services and workforce development hub. It will be the site of the Eva and Oakley Farris Child Development Center,” Hughes continued.

“With the GCTC Foundation, we will create the Gateway Kaleidoscope Center for Urban Outreach at the Methodist Church on Greenup and 5th Street. We will build a new science and allied health teaching center at 620-634 Scott Street that will complement the new Kenton County Library,” he said.

Hughes said the goal of the plan was to create a framework that would imbed the college into the community and enable even greater collaboration between the two. A key element of the plan is to work with existing community partners like the library, Northern Kentucky Convention Center, Baker Hunt Cultural Center and Carnegie Visual and Performing Arts Center. “Our plan complements what is in the community and doesn’t duplicate what is here already.”

"The increase in students, faculty and staff will boost the local economy with more jobs, retail and restaurants. It will invigorate Covington’s Madison Avenue corridor and restore it to the vibrant district it once was,” said Covington Mayor Chuck Scheper.

The project has the support of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. “I commend Gateway and the local community for collaborating on this master plan that is designed to transform both the regional economy and educational opportunities for students, particularly in high-wage, high-demand jobs,” said Michael B. McCall, KCTCS president.

Martha Johnson, retired founding chair of the KCTCS board of regents and current chair of the Gateway board of directors, noted that today’s announcement fulfills one of the state system’s original goals.

“When KCTCS was created in 1997, Gov. Patton charged the new board with 'constructing a system to produce well-educated and highly trained Kentuckians who could compete with workers the world over,’” Johnson said. “Dr. McCall understood from the beginning how important Northern Kentucky is to that mandate and has remained committed to the district's growth. Because of his belief and commitment and Gateway's hard work, the college's history as part of the system has been well marked with milestones, but in my mind, today's announcement most clearly recognizes the system's mission to provide educational access for all students. With the Urban Campus, we are truly bringing hope and opportunity to the people of Covington where they live.”

The Gateway Foundation has played a central role in raising funds to enable Urban Campus development. “Eleven years ago, when Dr. Hughes asked us to form a foundation for a college that didn’t even have a name, I never envisioned a day as historically significant as today,” said Lee Flischel, chair of the Gateway Foundation board of directors.

“I’m just glad that the foundation has grown to a point where we’re able to lend a hand and make the Urban Campus a reality. I believe the positive economic impact of this campus development on the city of Covington, and the community as a whole, will be felt for many years to come,” Flischel added.

“This could not have happened without the work of our faculty and staff and the support and encouragement of the people of this region.” Hughes said. “We have a bold plan, and we have just begun to execute it. The future is going to be very exciting.”

The full text of the Master Plan can be viewed at http://www.gateway.kctcs.edu/Visitors_and_Community/Urban_Campus_Project.aspx.