Chippewa Valley Technical College is in the early stages of exploring student housing options, ranging from constructing a dorm structure to building twin homes.
CVTC’s three-year facilities plan, which will be reviewed by the CVTC District Board on Monday, includes an 80,000-square-foot dorm building that would cost $20 million. It would be paid for through a public/private partnership and through borrowed dollars, the document states.
“The college is working with consultants to determine project viability, explore potential locations, and develop an operating plan,” the facilities plan states.
CVTC president Bruce Barker cautioned that the proposal is preliminary.
“We start the fall of every year with our strategic plan. (The board) wants notice on anything we could be thinking of; it’s everything on our wish list,” Barker said. “It is not a prioritized list. We are looking at preliminary plans, what the costs would be, what the costs to our students would be.”
Enrollment has steadily grown in recent years, he added. Typically, technical colleges actually see an increase in numbers during slow economic times, as people go back to school to learn new skills to find a job, he explained. However, enrollment has been up throughout a strong economy.
“We’ve seen slight increases the past three years now, and enrolling more students,” he said.
And many of those students travel daily to Eau Claire because of the lack of affordable, local housing options, he said.
“We’ve had more and more requests for student housing,” Barker said. “We’ve been a commuter college.”
Two years ago, CVTC performed a feasibility study on building a dorm.
“We could easily fill a 300-bed unit,” he said. “It would be a whole new ballgame if we moved toward this.”
Technical colleges in Wausau and Green Bay have recently added student housing complexes between 100 and 300 units, he added.
Another proposal within the three-year facilities plan includes $750,000 for twin homes, which would be roughly 3,800 square feet in size. This proposal would cost $750,000.
Barker explained that the school already offers a housing construction program.
“Typically, we buy a lot, here in Eau Claire or in Chippewa Falls, and our students construct a house over the course of the year, and we sell it in the spring,” he said.
The idea in the facilities plan is to build twin homes along Polk Avenue in the Putnam Heights neighborhood, near CVTC’s parking lot. But instead of selling them, they could be kept for students, or as transitional housing for new teachers, he said.
“You could put a number of lots there,” Barker said. “There would still be the option to sell it.”
Another big proposal in the facilities plan is a proposed $25 million transportation center for the automotive maintenance program. Barker said that the lab still looks the same as it did in the 1970s, but there are more innovations in cars, particularly the growth in electric vehicles.
“Our facility is really dated, and we need to expand and improve it,” he said. “We’re seeing big changes coming in transportation.”
Unlike the university system, CVTC has bonding authority, meaning it can borrow money as needed and approved by the board, he added.
Other long-term facilities plans included in the plan are:
• Add 7,000 square feet of space to the Emergency Services Educational Center at a cost of $1.75 million, and remodel another 24,000 square feet of the center at a cost of $1.5 million.
• Remodel 1,300 square feet in the radiography lab in the Health Education Center, at a cost of $228,750.
• Remodel 2,700 square feet in the Manufacturing Education Center, at a cost of $300,000.
• Remodel 4,700 square feet in the Chippewa Falls location, at a cost of $300,000.
• Improve the 1,000-square-foot entrance corridor to the Menomonie location, at a cost of $350,000. The offices and commons area in Menomonie totaling 1,400 square feet would be remodeled at a cost of $200,000.
• Create a motorcycle training course on the west campus in Eau Claire at a cost of $300,000.
• The 12,000-square-foot Applied Technology Center would be remodeled at a cost of $1 million.
• A 20,000-square-foot equipment storage facility would be built at a cost of $1.8 million. It would be used to store everything from automotive equipment to motorcycles and snowmobiles.
• A welding lab would receive a 12,000-square-foot expansion at a cost of $3 million.
• Remodel 26,350 square feet in the Business Education Center at a cost of $2.5 million.
• The residential construction class would receive a 7,700-square-foot lab, at a cost of $1.5 million.
The CVTC District Board meets at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Business Education Center, room 100A, 620 W. Clairemont Ave.