Merced College last week was awarded a $3 million construction renovation grant from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA). The grant, along with the last of the 2002 Measure H Bond funds, will provide over $9 million to renovate and modernize the Vocational Building near the center of the Merced campus.
The Vocational Building, originally constructed in 1967, has undergone additions and upgrades throughout its history to accommodate ADA and programmatic changes. The building houses Merced College’s business programs and is home to labs for Computer Science, Administrative Office Management, Accounting, Foods and Nutrition, and Drafting Technology. The International Student Services Office is also located in the Vocational Building, promoting awareness, perspective and understanding of international cultures.
News of the EDA funding came just days after Merced College broke ground on the new Raj M. Kahlon Agriculture and Industrial Technology Complex, a 29,000-square-foot facility that will be the first new building on campus since 2009, replacing original facilities that were built in the 1960s.
“We have a two-fold mission to serve our students and to meet the needs of our community, and these projects are going to dramatically improve our ability to do both,” Merced College President Chris Vitelli said. “Our students and instructors are going to love the new spaces we’re creating for them, and our community will continue to benefit greatly from these career technical and instructional programs.”
Planned renovations to the two-story, 29,034-square-foot Vocational Building include: rebuilding and modernizing the building’s interior labs and classrooms; reconfiguring spaces to accommodate programmatic functions; updating all heating, ventilation and air conditioning; new lighting and networking; updating handrails, restrooms and drinking fountains for accessibility; replacing the roofing system; classroom technology upgrades; and new landscaping and interior and exterior paint.
The building remodel will include a new culinary lab, which will provide opportunities for students in the growing hospitality industry sector. The building renovations will increase the number of students able to complete the program and allow for the addition of a commercial kitchen that will serve as the foundation for their future career.
“The new space will be a prominent fixture in the heart of the Merced campus, and will continue the college’s long tradition of educating and upskilling the local workforce,” said Bryan Tassey, Dean of Career Technical Education.
The college is working on developing a timeline for the project, with hopes to begin construction as early as next summer, according to Joe Allison, Vice President of Administrative Services. Planning will begin in Fall 2021, with construction expected to be completed by Spring 2024.
“We recognize the urgency in modernizing these outdated facilities and want to complete this important project as quickly as possible to better prepare society- and workforce-ready graduates,” Allison said.
“The EDA grant application was a yearlong process that involved gathering local industry, workforce development, and dignitary support,” said Marcus Metcalf, Director of Capital Projects and Construction. “Many parties were involved in the effort, and we are very grateful for the award of this federal grant.”
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