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December 19, 2019

Guv pledges $7.4 million more for LFCC building

A 40,000-square-foot, two-story building, Hazel Hall will house a nursing skills lab, science labs, engineering and fabrication labs, classrooms, a board room, faculty offices, study spaces and a lounge and a conference center with banquet seating for 275 people.
As everyone knows, this has been a challenging project for us in the Fauquier community. And I have appreciated the patience of everyone who has been so supportive. This is truly the best outcome we could have hoped for.
— LFFC President Kimberly P. Blosser
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
With a $7.4-million boost this week from the governor, work could begin next summer on Lord Fairfax Community College’s long-awaited health, science and technology building at the Fauquier campus.

“If it could start in May/June, then we’ll be not quite two years behind” schedule, LFCC President Kimberly P. Blosser said Thursday.

If all goes according to plan, Hazel Hall “potentially” could open by spring 2022, Dr. Blosser said.

“That depends on weather and those kind of things,” the college president added.

Escalating construction costs largely account for the project’s delay.

The state originally appropriated about $15 million for construction of the 40,000-square-foot, two-story structure that will house nursing skills lab, science labs, engineering and fabrication labs, classrooms, a board room, faculty offices, study spaces and a lounge and a conference center with banquet seating for 275 people.

The LFCC Foundation raised another $3 million for project costs that the state doesn’t cover.

A new courtyard will connect the building to Wolk Hall, the Sowder Library and The Barn, where the Fauquier campus started in 1988.

Construction estimates indicating costs would exceed the budget triggered an ongoing state review that postponed the project’s start, originally planned for early 2018.

In the spring of this year, general contractor Kjellstron and Lee Construction of Richmond gave college officials the sobering news. To construct Hazel Hall as designed by Grim and Parker architects could cost $5.2 million more than expected.

Options to close the funding gap included redesigning the building, seeking more bids, seeking additional state funds or combination of all three.

But, none of those cost-savings measures will be necessary.

Using “current year” funds, Gov. Ralph Northam “released” a budget bill Tuesday that includes $7.4 million to fully fund the Hazel Hall project and remodel classrooms in Wolk Hall, according to Dr. Blosser.

“We are anticipating that (the bill) could be signed” by Gov. Northam “sometime in April, she said. “Theoretically, if he signs it in April, then the funding is freed up in April.”

Besides closing the project’s construction costs, the additional money will be used for design changes to comply with new state building code requirements and to remodel science labs in the 57,000-square-foot Wolk Hall for other “instructional” purposes, according to Dr. Blosser.

Nothing about the new building’s original appearance, size and uses will change, the college president stressed.

“As everyone knows, this has been a challenging project for us in the Fauquier community,” she said. “And I have appreciated the patience of everyone who has been so supportive. This is truly the best outcome we could have hoped for.

“This gets us the building with all of the facilities that we needed so that we can have updated science labs, we can have health professionals’ labs.”

Virginia does not cover the costs of site work for new construction at community colleges. The LFCC Foundation has raised $3 million for that portion of the project.

The local share includes a $250,000 donation from the Barkman family, owners of Golden Rule Builders in Catlett, and a $20,000 donation from Bob Sowder, the most consistent supporter of the college. 

The PATH Foundation also gave $1 million. The Hazel family pledged $1 million toward the building in October 2013.

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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