GRCC eyes fall opening for Lakeshore campus

The days are drawing closer when the new Grand Rapids Community College Lakeshore campus will be abuzz with students and faculty.

Plans are in full swing to have the former JCPenney store in The Shops at Westshore mall in Holland Township renovated in time for fall 2021 classes, according to GRCC President Bill Pink.

The 50,000-square-foot building that’s near the intersection of U.S. 31 and James Street will include classrooms and labs for the schools of Workforce Development and Arts and Sciences, as well as general education, technology, and trades.

Plans are in full swing to have the former JCPenney store in The Shops at Westshore mall in Holland Township renovated in time for fall 2021 classes.
Convenient location

It also will include student services, such as testing, counseling, placement, and a satellite library. Purchasing and renovation costs of the former big box store are $12 million. The building is located on a bus line and is surrounded by businesses and services.

“One of the nice things that happened amid all of these shutdowns because of the pandemic in the state is that it did not shut down construction projects,” Pink says. “That was very good for us.”

The name of the new Lakeshore campus, where students will pay the out-of-district tuition rate, is to be determined.

Good for students, township

Knowing that Ottawa County will have a community college to call its own is heartening, says Kyle Mayer, Superintendent of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.

“GRCC is already a known, welcomed, and trusted partner,” Mayer says. “Unlike many counties in Michigan, Ottawa does not currently have a community college to call our own, where graduates and adult learners have immediate access to affordable, resident versus non-resident tuition. This expansion brings more community college options closer to home, and it will allow us as a community to have continued conversations about taking the steps necessary to access resident tuition rates.”

GRCC’s location is a plus because it’s along the commercially rich U.S. 31, adds Steve Bulthuis, Manager for Holland Township.

“We are very excited to have Grand Rapids Community College on Westshore,” Bulthuis says. “We feel that’s going to bring a great opportunity both for GRCC students and the township. The location of the campus is right along the primary commercial corridor in Holland Township, and it is going to both support other activities surrounding the campus, which certainly is going to benefit from having those other amenities and services in close proximity. So it’s really a win-win for the students of GRCC as well as the township and commercial entities along the U.S. 31 corridor.”

Plenty of parking

And while colleges are infamous for not having adequate parking, the GRCC Lakeshore Campus location will gladly break from that tradition, thanks to the mall’s expansive parking lot.

“We have this large mall with a whole lot of parking,” Pink says.

Plans are in full swing to have the former JCPenney store in The Shops at Westshore mall in Holland Township renovated in time for fall 2021 classes.

GRCC has offered classes on the Lakeshore since 1989. Classes offered can lead to associate degrees in arts and general studies, as well as industrial maintenance technology associate of applied arts and sciences degrees. One-year certificate programs include industrial maintenance, industrial technology, tooling and manufacturing, and welding.

In fall 2019, GRCC enrolled about 1,900 Ottawa County residents. About 700 took classes in four Lakeshore locations: the Thompson M-TEC facility, Midtown Center, GVSU’s Meijer Campus, and West Ottawa High School. These divergent locations sometimes proved to be a challenge for students that a single campus will solve.

“If a student had a class at West Ottawa High School and took an additional class that might be offered at the GVSU Meijer campus, it was difficult to drive across town and try to make those classes (on time),” Pink says.

Read more articles by Paul R. Kopenkoskey.

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