NorthWest Arkansas Community College's land use committee voted Thursday (May 10) to recommend its board of trustees enter preliminary discussion with land owner Philip Taldo for the school's Washington County Instructional Center.
The committee reviewed the proposal at its regular meeting and formally got the ball rolling on public discussion for the proposed site, which is located directly west of Arvest Ballpark in Springdale.
Dr. Steven Gates, senior vice president for learning & provost, said the college was attracted to the property for several reasons: access and visibility to Interstate 540, accessibility from all of Washington County, potential for development, planned improvements for roads and infrastructure by the City of Springdale and the location on the west side of Springdale and I-540.
NWACC leaders have looked at land for nearly 18 months and recently narrowed its preferred site list to the Taldo property, an estimated 39 acres, currently undeveloped and zoned as commercial.
Preliminary discussion with the landowner will focus on exploring various options to keep costs down and add value through creative partnerships for development, building and purchase. If discussion is successful, the college anticipates then seeking approval from the board of trustees to enter formal negotiations with the landowner.
Gates said Springdale city officials and the Springdale Chamber of Commerce have supported of the college’s interest in land in the Springdale area.
NWACC anticipates a long-term need of an estimated 120,000 square feet of instructional space that could be built in one to three building phases, depending on terms of agreement with the landowner and potential partners for development.
Steven Hinds, executive director of public relations and marketing, said in this preliminary phase, there has not been a timeline, nor construction budget released to the public.
NWACC's enrollment with a Washington County address represents 40% or 2,531 students. The college also has seen increased enrollment of students living in the Siloam Springs area. For students in this geographic area of the college’s two-county service area, a permanent instructional center in Washington County would provide greater access to postsecondary education and workforce training. Increased access was cited as a critical need by stakeholders during regional focus groups held in early 2008 as part of the college’s master planning process.
The College currently leases property in Washington County to operate instructional centers.