Regents OK expansion at college

ATLANTA - The next phase of the ongoing expansion of Georgia Gwinnett College should be ready for students by the fall semester of next year, school officials said Tuesday.

A state university system Board of Regents committee voted unanimously to hire a design-build company to both plan and construct a 24,000-square-foot addition to a classroom building that opened in January.

The full board is expected to approve the $5.1 million project today.

"This one's literally going to be coming up out of the ground in six months,'' said Linda Daniels, the university system's vice chancellor for facilities, following Tuesday's committee vote. "(Since) this is going to be very much a replica (of the current building) ... we already had the whole schematic design.''

The state's newest four-year college was created by the General Assembly last year at the Lawrenceville site of the Gwinnett University Center, which had been serving as a satellite campus for Georgia Perimeter College and the University of Georgia.

Georgia Gwinnett is accepting applications for its first 250 students, who will enter in August as junior transfers. It will enroll its first freshman class a year later.

The campus off Collins Hill Road consists of a 110,000-square-foot "signature building'' that includes the college's administrative offices, a 124,000-square-foot classroom building and a 25,000-square-foot classroom building that was designed to accommodate additions.

The project approved by the Board of Regents committee Tuesday represents the second of up to five phases being planned by college officials to keep up with an expected jump in enrollment, said Gordon Harrison, the school's vice president for advancement.

He said the building is being constructed in phases because of state budget constraints.

Projects that can be done for about $5 million or less are considered "minor'' by the university system.

"Because it's so hard to get major (projects) and we have such a sore need, the Regents are allowing us to do a series of minors,'' Harrison said.

Manhattan Construction Co. of Atlanta was selected to do the planning and construction of the addition. Sixteen design-build firms submitted bids for the project.

Daniels said the selection process was based on the quality of the bids rather than the dollar amount.

The project's funding will come from general-obligation bonds authorized by the Legislature last year.