Yalies will soon find themselves sharing downtown New Haven with 11,000 new students when Gateway Community College’s new main campus on Church Street officially opens, an event which is now tentatively scheduled for August.
Gateway, founded in 1992 by the union of two community colleges, currently holds classes at two separate locations, one at Long Wharf and the other in North Haven. The new campus, set to cost a total of $198 million upon completion, according to Gateway’s website, will be located on Church Street between Frontage Road and Crown Street. Gateway spokeswoman Evelyn Gard said the project should be completed sometime in May and will officially house the majority of the college beginning in fall 2012.
“It feels like a dream has come true for thousands of students who may not even envision the potentiality of working and learning in a state-of-the-art facility,” said Gateway President Dorsey Kendrick, who assumed her position in 2000.
Gard said construction is “coming along beautifully,” although as of this January, scaffolding is still erected and interior work and finishing touches remain to be done. These final projects include plumbing, drywall, and electrical work. The hope, she said, is that by May the building can be officially certified and a grand opening will occur sometime in August. Additionally, Gard said the new facility remains on track to become the state’s first public building that is gold-certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Funding for the building itself has come from the state, but Gateway is undergoing a campaign called “Your College, Your Future” to raise money for equipment and other furnishings that are not covered by state funding. Gard said the college is “about a third of the way” toward raising its end goal of $6 million. The News reported last October that Yale-New Haven Hospital served as a silent donor in this campaign, contributing $500,000.
Although Kendrick said that she is happy about seeing the new campus come together and her original vision fulfilled, Gard said that the fate of the two older campuses remains undetermined. A summer session will be offered in June on the old campuses before the official transition to the Church Street location is made, Gard said. The North Haven location will be kept for its automotive program. The Long Wharf location will not house any classes in the foreseeable future, Gard said, but may allow the college to expand in the future — she added that enrollment is expected to increase because of the new campus.
When she assumed her role in 2000, Kendrick told the News, she set as her primary goal the creation of a consolidated campus to replace the school’s aging facilities. The project at Church Street has been in the works since 2003, when Mayor John DeStefano Jr. first announced the plan, and construction began in 2009. The new campus replaces a vacant lot that once housed a Macy’s and a retail mall.
According to Gateway’s website, the final building will have four levels, 358,000 square feet of space, a 600-space parking garage in addition to 700 leased spaces, 90 general-purpose classrooms, 10 meeting spaces and 22 computer labs. Among many other special features are a library, a multipurpose community center, a health center, a culinary arts center and an art gallery.
These features are expected to draw at least 11,000 students to the Gateway campus, where they will share downtown New Haven with the Yale community. Kendrick said she is very optimistic about the future of the relationship between Yale and Gateway in light of their impending proximity.
“[University President Richard] Levin is, I believe, as enthusiastic as I am about having students be able to be in the same general vicinity,” she said, adding that she envisions students interacting on the street, sharing the [New Haven] Green and having coffee together. She also hopes that the two schools can negotiate some benefits such as reduced prices for Gateway students at Yale museums and theaters. Already, she added, Gateway students have the opportunity to attend some classes at Yale, and it may be possible to expand these academic relations.
The average age of a Gateway student is 28, and 60 percent of students attend part-time.