Since officially acquiring the former Lanier Technical College property on July 1, 2019, the University of North Georgia is nearing the end of its Gainesville campus expansion renovations.
"We are about 90% complete, but the last 10% takes time," Bill Moody, director of facilities and operations on UNG's Cumming, Gainesville and Oconee campuses, said in a statement.
Ken Crowe, UNG’s assistant vice president for facilities, said the overall project will be finished in late spring 2021.
The renovated area that adjoins the Gainesville campus includes a 5,800-square-foot Student Health Services building, which opened Jan. 31, 2020; a 20,723-square-foot Film and Digital Media building; a 61,398-square-foot Arts and Technology building; and a 71,242-square-foot Health Science building.
Crowe said the total cost of the project is $18.9 million. The first phase for the planning and design totaled $3 million and was included in the fiscal year 2019 state budget. The second phase for renovations came out at $13.6 million as a part of the fiscal year 2020 state budget. The third phase for purchasing equipment and supplies totaled at $2.3 million, and it was passed in the fiscal year 2021 state budget.
Crowe said by renovating existing buildings, the project has proven a good value for taxpayers, plus it will increase Gainesville’s campus instructional space by 25%.
“We’re able to get this space for one-fifth of the cost, versus building it new,” he said.
Carroll Daniel Construction is leading the construction of the expansion project.
The Health Sciences building will accommodate information technology and the nursing department, and also house a food court.
“The nursing area is vastly larger than what we have on the Gainesville campus,” Crowe said. “It will allow us to expand the number of nursing students we are able to develop. It’s a big deal, especially in a COVID environment to increase the number of nurses we can instruct in Gainesville.”
The almost-finished Film and Digital Media building will feature three sound stages, a writer’s room, three dressing rooms — including a male, female and gender-neutral space — two tiered theater-seating classrooms, one makeup room, a computer lab with two private editing rooms, one color-grading and sound mixing room, and a craft services room.
The Arts and Technology building will supply classrooms, office space and laboratories for UNG’s Lewis F. Rogers Institute for Environmental and Spatial Analysis, the Office of Professional and Continuing Education and the visual arts department.