A new building started taking shape last month at Southwestern Community College’s campus in Sylva, with completion slated for next March.
When finished, the nearly $8-million project will be called the Conrad G. Burrell building after longtime board of trustee member Conrad Burrell, who once took carpentry, electrical and other classes at what was then a technical college. The building will provide the school new bookstore space, plus additional academic and administrative space.
This represents the first state-funded construction to take place at SCC’s main campus since 1986, Project Manager George Stanley said. More recently, Jackson County paid to build an early-college building for high-school students there. The county transferred ownership of that building to the community college.
Jackson County also pitched in about $2.7 million to help fund the new building.
This new 38,210-square-foot Burrell building is being paid for with remnants of the 2000 education bond referendum. Stanley said the school asked to delay using the bond money to work out a swap for the land-strapped institution from the N.C. Forest Service, which neighbored SCC’s campus. Burrell was instrumental in making that deal happen — the Forest Service identified nine acres to relocate to elsewhere in Jackson, in the Greens Creek area, and SCC purchased the land for them.
“That was a good trade,” Burrell said. “Southwestern needed that property bad.”
The building is environmentally friendly, though it won’t carry the coveted LEED certification tag because of ongoing costs associated with that program.
“We have a pedigree building without the registration,” Stanley said.
That includes geothermal heating and cooling with 48 wells used to meet the 105-ton cooling load of the building.
Thanks to the economic doldrums, construction came in $1.5-million less than budgeted. This will allow SCC, pending state approval, to use its surplus to buy an abandoned Tuckaseigee Water and Sewer Association water tank on campus. This is needed to provide adequate pressure to power a fire sprinkler system for all of the buildings on SCC’s campus, and to reach the third floor of the new building, Stanley said.
Burrell said he was honored when the SCC board of trustee’s named the building after him.
“I had no idea the board was going to do this,” Burrell said. “We were in a meeting, they asked me to leave — I thought they were going to fire me or something. I wasn’t expecting it.”