Chandler-Gilbert Community College has completed its first expansion paid for through bond money authorized by voters in 2004 — a larger campus in the Sun Lakes 55-plus senior community.
College officials say the expansion of the Sun Lakes Center will allow the college to serve about 1,800 students each year. The $2 million project expanded the facility from 5,000 square feet to 11,000 square feet.
“We’re sort of happy and unhappy with the project,” said Mark Mason, vice president for administrative services at the college.
He said the good news is the project is completed and will now serve more Sun Lakesarea seniors with classes ranging from computer literacy to religious studies.
However, skyrocketing construction costs put the project almost $300,000 over budget and officials are concerned about future projects.
“The end result of that is we will likely end up building buildings that are slightly smaller than they were originally planned to be,” Mason said.
Other projects currently on the drawing board include a 21,000-square-foot health care classroom building and a 20,000-square-foot hangar for the college’s aviation programs, both at the college’s Williams campus in Mesa.
Officials plan to break ground on both projects sometime this summer.
And design work on a 51,000-square-foot facility at the Pecos campus has just begun. That building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2009.
The Sun Lakes Center is unique because it serves mainly older retired students.
“The seniors drive a lot of the programming there,” college spokeswoman Trish Niemann said. “A lot of them are getting computers and digital cameras and they’re learning how to use them.”
Computer classes have always been popular at the center. When the Sun Lakes campus first opened in 1997, people sat on waiting lists for months to get into a basic computer class, said Mary Kaye Allen, the center’s director since that year.
“Ten years ago is when computers really became a thing on the general market,” she said. “There were computers in business and office places, but they were not home-based.”