FORT WORTH -- Tarrant County College trustees moved forward Thursday night with plans for a 67,200-square-foot energy technology center on the South Campus by approving a $2.8 million contract for architecture and engineering design services.
The contract was on the consent agenda; the board voted 7-0 without discussion to hire Freese and Nichols of Fort Worth.
The cost of the center and its funding source have not been determined.
"That will probably come out of this," Trustee Louise Appleman said before the meeting. "They will tell us it will cost X amount of dollars."
Plans for the center are not new. TCC issued requests for interest by architectural firms in January 2009, and the cost of architectural and engineering services was approved in budgeting last summer, Appleman said.
"We have been talking about it for years," Appleman said.
The proposed center was featured in the spring 2011 issue of TCC's magazine Projection. The article describes a sustainable building that would modernize programs while helping meet needs in various technology fields. For example, students in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration now work out of a 40-year-old building.
The Projection article says, "The first of its kind in the nation, the center will feature hands-on teaching tools for students in the Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Technology Program, and will ... expand curriculum to meet specialized industry needs."
In August, trustees adopted an estimated $348.9 million budget for fiscal 2012 that raised 2012 property taxes for the district by 8 percent and tuition by 4 percent. At that time, budget discussions included raising funds to build projects such as the technology center, a performing arts center for the Northeast Campus and an Alliance Center that would include avionics programs.
During one workshop, in a funding scenario, one cost of the technology center was given as about $35 million.
After the board meeting Thursday, board President Bill Greenhill called that number a "place holder."
"This has nothing to do with the price of eggs," Greenhill said. "We don't have a price for the new building."
Also in August, the board authorized Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley to negotiate a contract with Freese and Nichols.
TCC pays as it goes for such projects -- it pays cash and doesn't borrow money -- so the district will have to determine how to pay for the project once a price is set, Appleman said. No land will have to be bought.
The TCC board and administration were heavily criticized as spending lavishly to build the $185 million Trinity River East Campus. Appleman said this project is needed and involves replacing or modernizing learning space.
"It's like a house," Appleman said. "You are forever repairing or adding on. That's what you have to do with campuses, too."