New downtown center will benefit students, Lubbock

By Autumn Bippert

The City of Lubbock and South Plains College have finalized the sale of the current City Hall building to become a new campus. 

The sale comes just after of the 12-month time frame was set aside to explore the possibilities of using Lubbock City Hall as a future campus for South Plains College, as part of  the Memorandum of Understanding between the college, the City of Lubbock, and Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA).

Dr. Robin Satterwhite, president of South Plains College, recently explained that the cost of the building was $2 million. He also said that the expected cost of the construction is $15 million. SPC has received $16 million in commitments from LEDA to support  the purchase and remodeling costs.  SPC will receive an additional $3 million in operation support for the first five years of operation.  Overall, the college will have $19 million in financial commitments for the project.

city hall

The Lubbock City Hall buliding will be remodeled to be the college’s Downtown Center.
The new campus will house Arts and Sciences classes that are currently at Reese
Center and is anticipated to open for Fall 2021.
AUTUMN BIPPERT/PLAINSMAN PRESS

“There were a number of factors that influenced the decision to move forward with the Downtown Lubbock Center,”  Dr. Satterwhite said. “Among the greatest of these was the long- term decline in enrollment at the Reese Center and the potential for SPC to be located closer to Texas Tech and our other university partners.”

Dr. Satterwhite said that he anticipates that this will benefit the City of Lubbock because it will establish a more permanent and comprehensive community college presence in the heart of  the city.

Lubbock was previously the largest city in Texas without a college campus downtown. The Downtown Center is expected to enroll 2,500 students a semester. Dr. Satterwhite also explained that the downtown campus is important for employment preparation and creating a more robust workforce for the city and the region.

“Being more closely located to our largest transfer partner, Texas Tech, we believe we will have a greater number of students co-enroll at SPC and TTU,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “This    will allow us to serve a greater number of students.  Currently, many of these students cannot commute to Reese or Levelland and maintain their necessary schedule at TTU.  However, since we will only be approximately seven blocks from TTU, we expect that students may choose to enroll in many of the courses offered  at SPC at a fraction of the cost of attending the university.”

He also said that the plan to completely remodel the building in Lubbock will result in very high quality and attractive educational facilities.

Dr. Satterwhite explained that they know that SPC will eventually need to make substantial capital improvements at some of the Reese Center facilities, and the college’s investment could be more productive at a location that will better serve the students.

That the current plan is to completely remodel the Lubbock City Hall building, according to Dr. Satterwhite. This will require removing almost all of the current infrastructure of the building to change the function from an office facility to an educational facility.  Additionally, SPC hopes to create a very modern and vibrant educational environment to best serve students.

Dr. Satterwhite anticipates that the building will be complete for coursework to begin in the Fall of 2021.  He also said that they do not have a completed design for the building, and won’t be  able to begin construction until the current Lubbock city management moves out of the facility.

“The current plan is to move the Arts and Sciences classes that are currently being offered at the Reese Center to this new Downtown Lubbock Center when it is complete,” Dr. Satterwhite explained. “The Arts and Sciences classes include those courses that are offered as part of the AA or AS degree plans.  It is important to note that not all AA or AS classes are planned to be offered at the new center, only those currently offered at the Reese Center.”

Dr. Satterwhite said he’s most excited about the potential for increased enrollment at South Plains College.

“One of the major factors in students attending college is accessibility, geographic and financial accessibility,” added Dr. Satterwhite. “I believe that this new center will provide greater accessibility through lower costs than the other Lubbock options and  ease of access. Additionally, I am excited about the opportunity to create a new location that is supported by our private industry partners that will be attractive and appealing to our students.”