HOUSTON (Covering Katy News) – The Houston Community College System Board of Trustees has approved a plan to purchase 24 acres of land near the University of Houston Katy campus that is currently under construction at the northeast corner of I-10 and the Grand Parkway. Trustees also approved a three-year purchase option to acquire an adjoining 30 acres.
The property that will be purchased is at 228 Colonial Parkway, just north of the intersection of Grand Parkway and Colonial Parkway.
Five Trustees voted for the plan. Trustees Dave Wilson and Robert Glaser were the only two members of the board who voted against the plan. Dr. Pretta VanDible Stallworth and Neeta Sane abstained.
“I’d love to build a campus for the good people of Katy, but I can’t do it on the backs of the taxpayers,” said trustee Dave Wilson.
“I feel like the uncle who is signing the car note,” said trustee Robert Glaser.
Some members of the public also spoke against the Katy campus move and expansion saying there were other unmet needs within the system at campuses that are supported by taxpayers.
HCC Northwest President Zach Hodges said the expansion will be funded by student tuition and will require community support because the Katy campus does not have funding from taxpayers. Two plans under consideration that would offset the lack of taxpayer support would be selling naming rights to the building and possibly building a mixed-use facility that will have commercial space on the first floor that will generate rental income.
HCCS would borrow up to $55 million for the purchase of land, design, and programming, and construction of the project. It would sell the Foxlake Drive property in the Katy area and two other properties to help pay for the new campus.
Hodges was pleased that Trustees approved the Katy expansion plan.
“I see it as a vote of confidence,” Hodges said. “We need science labs and engineering labs and 21st-century classrooms that are a natural feeder to UH.”
The goal is for HCC is to provide the first two years of instruction for the University of Houston programs offered in Katy. The University of Houston is not going to offer freshman and sophomore level classes, but HCC will offer them and students’ credits will be transferable.
“It’s a great win for us as well,” said Jay Neal of the University of Houston of the vote to move HCC’s Katy campus next to the UH Katy campus.
Hodges believes it’s critical to have the HCC Katy campus and UH Katy campus as close as possible to each other so that the transition for students is seamless. HCC will provide “a four-year college experience,” Hodges said. Having a co-location means students will spend their four years on essentially the same property taking classes and working toward their degrees.
HCC currently serves about 4,500 students, but Hodges expects a much larger student population in the future. The new campus will help HCC Katy achieve that goal.
“Our model is for around 7,000 students,” he said.
West Houston has experienced a tremendous population growth that has increased the enrollment in Katy ISD by 242 percent over the past 28 years, according to an HCCS document.
“The explosive growth in Katy will require an educated, trained workforce,” said Associate Provost Ronald Salazar of the University of Houston-Victoria Katy. UHV Katy works in conjunction with HCC to help meet the employment training and educational demands of the future. Salazar noted that HCC and UHV have the same goals — to train the workforce of the future.
“We have the programs that workers at Amazon, Federal Express, GEICO and Igloo are going to be demanding. So together we are going to meet that demand,” Salazar said.
HCC Katy is currently in discussions with UH to create workforce programs and offer comprehensive baccalaureate programs.
The West Houston Association worked with UH in selecting the property as its new Katy location. The organization has a history of bringing new ideas to Greater West Houston in infrastructure, public policy and planning.
“Three million people can reach this location in less than 30 minutes,” said West Houston Association President and CEO Auggie Campbell.
Campbell noted that the West Houston area is underserved in educational opportunities for high school graduates, and that is why the UH System partnership with the Houston Community College System is so important.
The HCCS administration expects the Katy co-location will increase revenue by $168 million over the term of the 27-year loan, leaving the school with a net cash inflow of nearly $29 million.
The next steps for the board include the selection of an architectural firm, approving the building design and programming, and selecting the construction firm that will build the new campus.
The current schedule would have the campus opening in 2021.